September 28-October 4 marks Diaper Need Awareness Week– a time when those involved in diaper bank work like to remind the public that going without diapers is an issue that far too many parents face daily. When families face financial hardships they can apply for and receive benefits such as SNAP to help them buy groceries, or WIC to help them buy formula and other necessities for pregnant moms and infants. Neither program provides the other necessity- diapers.
There are many, many commenters in Internet-land who loudly proclaim these gems “if you can’t afford to diaper your kids you shouldn’t have them” or the always fun “Can’t afford diapers? Don’t use them- that’s what they do in the Amazon.” There are also the commenters who suggest cloth diapers. Usually those comments are from the older generation who proclaim proudly how they were diapered in cloth and their parents were poor- it’s just the logical thing to do if you can’t afford disposables.
Most often these “know-it-all” commenters come from a place of privilege. It’s easy to say what poor families should do with the money they don’t have, and it’s even easier to say those things from behind the computer screen. Would they tell a woman, infant in arms, that she shouldn’t have had that baby to her face? I doubt it.
Diaper need is often overlooked but there are many wonderful organizations, both local and national, that are there to assist families by providing diapers. Usually these diaper banks or food pantries can only give parents a small number of disposable diapers in order to help the large number of families that rely on them each week. Even with this help it’s not uncommon for the families to still run out of diapers before they can get more from the same diaper bank.
I’m one of those people who WANTs to comment on these article- use cloth diapers! They can help! I too come from a privileged point of view. I’ve never once had to choose between buying food or diapers (and not just because we have always used cloth.) I grew up relying on food pantries to eat more than not, and yes I have had welfare cheese. Thankfully I escaped that life and it’s something my own children have never known. Today I am fortunate enough that I can volunteer for a cloth diaper bank. Currently I serve in the role of Executive Director of Giving Diapers, Giving Hope, prior to this position I was their Fundraising and Social Media Coordinator.
I do this because I truly believe cloth diapers CAN help families in need, but the start-up cost of cloth is often a fee families cannot afford. There are so many ways to get started with cloth on a budget but not every family is able to.
Giving Diapers, Giving Hope has enabled more than 1,000 families to start cloth diapering since 2011 for the cost of shipping. We do this with a lot of help from GroVia (they manage all of the shipping and receiving on our behalf which is incredible). The program loans a set of diapers and families can use them as long as they need them. When they’re done with the diapers they ship them back with a pre-paid label. GDGH helps the families who aren’t close to a local cloth diaper bank. You can find examples of other cloth diaper banks on clothdiaperbanks.org.
This year I don’t want to see or hear “… but cloth diapers aren’t an option for low-income families.”
Why the media feels this statement is 100% fact is beyond me. 60% of families living under the poverty level have access to a washer. Many times this is because they rent a home or apartment that includes a washing machine. Having a washing machine doesn’t imply they are not truly “poor” just as the ownership of a smart phone or possession of a car or computer shouldn’t. Hardships comes without warning, and some families have been gifted such items from family or friends who want to make their quality of life better. Washing machines are not an indication that families shouldn’t qualify for public assistance. In our case it just means they can save $60 or more per month by using a charity like Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.
In order to raise awareness that cloth diapers CAN help we need you, our community, to help us. Share the video. Join the Periscopathon on September 28. Tell your friends to join, have them tell their friends. We can only give away ALL the prizes, including the highest value prizes in the Rafflecopter, if we hit ALL of of fundraising goals so be sure to participate in this donation drive on Sept. 28. Enter to win but again, remember, all prizes may not be given away if we don’t hit our goals. See more on the GDGH blog about our event.