They’re about to need a lot of diapers at Our Lady’s Inn in St. Louis, with 13 expectant moms living there now. Already the agency providing shelter and support for pregnant women and children has six toddlers in diapers living with their mothers at the St. Louis residence.
The permanent deacons of the archdiocese, in conjunction with the Respect Life Apostolate, are sponsoring the fourth annual diocesan-wide diaper drive for newborns, infants and toddlers in parishes from the weekend of March 30-31 through Palm Sunday, April 14.
“The diapers will come in handy,” said Peggy Forrest, president and chief executive officer of Our Lady’s Inn, which is just one of the agencies chosen by parishes as a recipient of the generous donations.
Last year, Our Lady’s Inn, with a second facility in St. Charles, housed 145 babies and children. They go through five to six packages of diapers a month per child, Forrest estimated.
Our Lady’s Inn also supplies diapers in an after-care program for moms who’ve lived there. “You’d rather provide them with diapers so they can afford their utility bill,” she said.
Spearheading the project are Deacon Randy Maune of St. John the Baptist Parish in Villa Ridge and Deacon Mike Suden of St. Bridget Parish in Pacific. Last year the drive provided over 277,000 diapers to local agencies. This year, the aim is to net as many as 300,000 diapers. It is up to the parish to decide where to donate them — a local St. Vincent de Paul Society conference, women’s shelter or crisis nursery, for example.
Deacon Maune said that providing diapers to a needy family gives them one less thing to worry about. His parishioners like that the collection helps people in the local community, Deacon Maune noted. “There’s just a big need out there — infants, toddlers, even adult diapers.”
It’s a pro-life activity, he added. “By helping out, you show that here’s another reason why you can keep your baby,” he said.
Cyndi Miller, executive director of the Circle of Concern food pantry in Valley Park, said “we really appreciate those donations” received from the diaper drive at St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood, as well as other efforts at the parish to support families and individuals in need. The pantry meets material needs and provides other resources to empower people to become independent.
“Low-income families who get SNAP (food stamps) benefits are not able to use those benefits to purchase things like diapers and other personal care items,” Miller said. “The last thing we want is for a child to stay in a diaper longer than they have to because mom and dad are trying to stretch diapers to make them last. We don’t want children suffering.”
Some of the families that are served by the pantry are low-wage earners; some are single moms who can’t work because of the need to care for children. “They just have a hard time keeping up with that expense,” Miller said.
The larger-size diapers for toddlers are needed most by Circle of Concern as well as adult diapers for incontinent seniors.
Deacon Dick Renard of St. Peter Parish said his parishioners help coordinate the drive and similar efforts throughout the year. “The people who run food pantries tell me the need for diapers is far in excess of what donations can fill. It’s a wonderful mission the deacons started,” Deacon Renard said.
The response from his parish doesn’t surprise him. “It’s just a spontaneously generous parish, be it diapers or whatever. It’s a blessing to be in this parish. We have all kinds of things going, a vibrant parish.”