As I held the child who had a full diaper, the mother said, “Father Jim, I can only afford four diapers a day. I clean them out and put it back on her.”
In shock, I asked, “What about food stamps?”
“Stamps don’t cover diapers,” she replied.
I will never forget how dumbfounded I was.
That was four years ago. Fast-forward to 2010. Gathered for the first convening of the National Diaper Bank Network were the founders of diaper banks from New Haven, Conn., Westside Baby in Seattle, Wash., southern Arizona and McHenry County, Ill. Facilitating the meeting and generously donating public relations expertise and millions of diapers to seed banks were the members of the Huggies leadership team.
It was such an honor to be seated around the table with such dynamic leaders whose sole purpose for developing the network was to raise awareness about diaper need nationally, to help new and existing diaper banks grow to meet local needs, and to secure national level resources to fight diaper need.
St. Paul Diaper Bank Partnership is just that – a partnership that aligns social service agencies within the McHenry County community. Diapers are distributed to agencies, and these agencies distribute to families in need.
The vision of partnerships and diaper banks now has expanded into Lake County with the Lake County Diaper Bank working with Catholic Charities.
Another bank has begun on the South Side of Chicago. It’s called Bundle of Joy, and also uses the vision formed here in McHenry County.
St. Paul Diaper Bank Partnership has received and distributed more than 700,000 diapers to families within the county. This is due to support on the local level and national support
Huggies supports The National Diaper Bank Network as the founding sponsor.
Since June 2010, Huggies has worked to combat diaper need through the Every Little Bottom campaign, donating more than 20 million diapers a year to families in need.
The success of these diaper banks inspired similar efforts throughout the country. As awareness of the problem of diaper need grew, small but passionate groups of people responded by founding diaper banks in their communities as independent organizations, through their churches, and as part of the work of existing relief agencies.
Diaper Need Awareness Week runs Sept. 10 through Sept. 17. Our local McHenry County Board will acknowledge this great success as well as other communities across the country; there will be diaper-need-focused events.
Being part of the founding of the National Diaper Bank Network, sponsors such as the Fogglia Family Foundation, Rigsby Construction, Rotary Dawnbreakers of Crystal Lake, Wintrust Bank and the many other sponsors within the area makes me proud of being part of such a community that cares for the exquisitely fragile heart of each other.
Visit www.diaperbanknetwork.org and support this venture nationally that supports us locally.
• The Reverend Jim Swarthout is founder of St. Paul Diaper Bank Partnership, a founding member of the board of directors of the National Diaper Bank Network, and a member of the McHenry County Mental Health Board.