W.PA Diaper Bank seeks to meet challenge during National Diaper Need Awareness Week
Last updated 9/26/2016 at 5:31pm
The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank joins the National Diaper Bank Network in supporting National Diaper Need Awareness Week, Sept. 26-Oct. 3.
The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Diaper Bank Network and operated by volunteers, distributes diapers free to families in need through 30 partner agencies in five counties: Allegheny, Fayette, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland.
“This year’s drive has added importance,” states Cathy Battle, Diaper Bank co-founder and executive director. Huggies has challenged each diaper bank to a match of 250,000 diapers if they collect the same amount by Dec. 31. Ms. Battle reports, “We are a little more than halfway to that goal and are counting on the generosity of Pittsburghers to help reach or exceed it. The need is great and growing.
“Many are not aware that there is no direct government funding for diapers. Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank joined a national movement to support proposed legislation, Hygiene Assistance for Families of Infants and Toddlers Act (S. 3070) and HR 4055, to address this critical family issue this year but the bills were defeated. President Obama then issued a challenge to businesses to step up and support community needs. The Huggies challenge is one response to that appeal.”
In the seven Southwest Pennsylvania counties the estimated need of children of families living in poverty is approximately 140,000 diapers per day, 77,000 per day in Allegheny County alone, and growing. Disposable diapers cost up to $100 per month per baby. The National Diaper Bank Network reports that one in three American families struggle to afford diapers for their children. At the rate of six diapers per day, diaper wearing children in poverty in the United States require more than 5.8 billion diapers annually.
Diapers can be dropped off at the following sites:
• Diaper Bank headquarters, New Light Temple Baptist Church, 2546 Centre Ave., Hill District, Tues. 6-8 p.m. year round
• Bramble Boutique, 3609 Butler St., Lawrenceville, year round, call for business hours
• First Presbyterian Church, 320 Sixth Ave., downtown, 11 am -2 pm, through Oct. 3
• AHN Forbes Regional Hospital, 2570 Haymaker Rd, Monroeville, through Oct. 3, drop off at Information Desk
Sizes 4, 5 and 6 are the most in-demand sizes of diapers. Cash donations can also be made with check payable to the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank or online at westernpennsylvaniadiaperbank.org.
Diapers are not distributed from the donation sites. Those in need of diapers for their families must contact one of the participating partner agencies throughout the area. All sites are listed at http://www.westernpennsylvaniadiaperbank.org.
“This annual event is a reminder of the year-round plight of families right here in our region,” says Pastor Phillip Battle, Diaper Bank co-founder and board president. “It comes at a time for us to establish a regular diaper supply as winter approaches. The winter months can be especially hard for many families facing the decision between basic necessities such as proper clothing and food and increased utility bills. Programs like this are essential to easing that burden and allowing families to thrive.”
“The health risks for babies without diapers are only the beginning of the challenges families face,” explains Pastor Battle, who formerly worked in social services positions. “Many may not directly see the despair created by the lack of a basic necessity for proper child care.” He notes the following:
• Most childcare centers, even the free and subsidized facilities, turn away children who arrive without an adequate supply of disposable diapers.
• Cloth diapers are not accepted at most centers. As a result, many parents cannot go to work or school consistently, thereby continuing the cycle of poverty.
• Many babies live in home environments with more tension, less nurturing and possible abuse.
Their chance to develop cognitive abilities and language skills normally is in jeopardy, and frankly, the uncomfortable baby will cry -- a lot.
“With the support the community at large, this is a crisis we can solve together,” Pastor Battle believes. “Raising awareness of the issue generally brings a generous response from the community.”
Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank is one of the 61 national recipients of the inaugural Funds for Change grant awarded by the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN).
For additional information about the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank, to make an online donation, schedule a speaker or to sponsor a diaper drive, visit http://www.westernpennsylvaniadiaperbank.org.