Parents of babies will agree — diapers are essential.
As staff and volunteers at Tri-County Birthright in Eureka can attest, diapers are one of the most needed — and most expensive — items in a child’s first few years of life.
Birthright is a nonprofit agency that provides free professional counseling and other services to women facing an unexpected pregnancy. On average, the agency distributes about 50 to 60 packages of diapers a month to clients, said director Holly Haberberger. “You’re always going to be in need of those since they’re a disposable item,” she said. “It’s something that is always a constant need.”
Tri-County Birthright is one of several recipients of an archdiocesan-wide diaper drive, sponsored by the permanent deacons of the archdiocese, in conjunction with the Respect Life Apostolate. The sixth annual, parish-based collection brings in diapers for newborns, infants and toddlers and will take place in participating parishes from March 14 through 21.
Spearheading the project is Deacon Randy Maune of St. John the Baptist Parish in Villa Ridge. Last year the drive provided more than 76,000 diapers to local agencies, a significant drop from previous years’ donations because the pandemic resulted in parishes suspending public Masses at the same time as last year’s collection, he said.
“In years prior to the pandemic we collected, in the neighborhood of 275,000 diapers,” Deacon Maune said. “This year, the aim is to net as many as 300,000 diapers.” In 2019, the collection brought in more than 325,000 diapers.
Each participating parish decides where to donate them — a local St. Vincent de Paul Society conference, pregnancy resource center, women’s shelter or crisis nursery, for example.
Infants can require a dozen diapers per day, and toddlers about eight on average, according to the National Diaper Bank Network. Disposable diapers can cost $70 to $80 per month per baby. Diapers are not covered by government assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Last year when he delivered diapers, Deacon Maune saw first-hand how much they were needed. “There were people in line before I got to the distribution points,” he said. “In talking to some of the people there, the need is definitely there. I think if more people would understand how great the need is, they are willing to give more.”
Larger-sized diapers in sizes four, five and six are especially in demand, Deacon Maune said. “The newborn and size ones, they are in and out of those so fast,” he said. “With the larger sizes, they cannot keep those on the shelves.”
“As Catholics, charity should be very important to all of us and one of our guiding principles,” he said.
>> Deacons’ annual diaper drive
WHO: Permanent deacons in the archdiocese, in collaboration with the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate
WHAT: Collecting diapers for newborns, infants and toddlers
WHEN: March 14-21
MORE INFO: Contact your parish’s permanent deacon(s); if your parish is not hosting a drive, contact Deacon Randy Maune at [email protected].
>> Diaper need
• 1 in 3 U.S. families reports experiencing diaper need
• 5 million children in the U.S. aged 3 or younger live in poor or low-income families
• Infants require up to 12 diapers per day, toddlers about eight
• Disposable diapers can cost $70 to $80 per month per baby
• No state or federal child safety net program allocates dollars specifically for the purchase of diapers
• Without transportation, buying diapers at a convenience store rather than a large “big box” store can significantly increase the monthly cost of diapers
• Most child care centers, even free and subsidized facilities, require parents to provide a day’s supply of disposable diapers
Source: National Diaper Bank Network