When the Cleveland Diaper Bank closed its doors in 2016, Joannah Lynch wanted to find a way to fill this need. She sees low-income families struggling to afford basic needs for their children, including diapers, as a nurse practitioner at Neighborhood Family Practice, which provides care for families without insurance.
For many mothers living in poverty, the only solution is to change their babies’ diapers less often, sometimes even shaking the feces out and reusing soiled diapers. They have no other choice.
Unfortunately, government programs such as WIC don’t allow families to use funds for diapers. And the cost of diapers is often much higher for low-income families because of limited access to transportation. Therefore, they are forced to buy overpriced diapers from local grocery or convenience stores, rather than buying in bulk at a wholesale store or online. Purchasing diapers this way can cost families up to $1,000 per year per baby. Cloth diapers are not an option either because many families don’t have their own laundry machines, and diapers cannot be washed at laundromats.
Not being able to afford diapers creates other problems for families as well. For example, most daycare centers require a supply of disposable diapers, making it difficult for low-income families to send children to daycare while they are at work.
Lynch, a mom of three young children, made it her mission to help solve the diaper supply problem. In 2017, Lynch held her first CLE Diaper Drive. With the help of an Amazon.com wish list and generous donations from various mini-drives throughout Cleveland, Lynch collected 80,000 diapers for families in need. Because of the drive’s great success, Lynch is hosting another Diaper Drive, with a goal of 100,000 diapers.
The event kicks off Sept. 21 at Bottlehouse Brewery in Lakewood. Admission is free (but a donation of diapers is greatly appreciated), and the evening will include pizza, diaper-shaped cookies and a raffle. Can’t attend on Sept. 21? Check out two other events in Lakewood on Sept. 25 and 29.
Multiple participating drop-off locations can be found on both the east and west sides of Cleveland. Find the locations here. Collections are accepted in person through Sept. 29. Do you have a partially full box of diapers sitting around that you no longer need? These can be donated as well.
Donate any time of the year via Amazon on the CLE Diaper Drive wish list.
Diaper Need Awareness Week 2018 begins Sept. 24. Diaper need is defined as the lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to keep a baby clean, dry and healthy. It’s estimated that one in three U.S. families struggles with diaper need.