Junior League of Gainesville-Hall County is helping families provide diapers for their children through a new program, Diaper Bank of North Georgia, it started in October 2018.
“Last year, we needed to come up with a new program and we went around and just tried to find out what the community needed,” said Caroline Nix, Junior League president. “After a lot of research, I actually figured out that diapers were not covered by any government assistance agency.”
Nix said she was “appalled” and once she shared that information with the rest of the women who are a part of the league, they jumped on the cause. Even though Nix said she’s never had to worry about where her children’s diapers would come from, after talking with people in the community, she heard stories that made her even more passionate about getting the diaper bank underway.
“I guess part of it is that I’m a mom,” Nix said. “Hearing some of the stories of people wiping out diapers and reusing them and these children getting diaper rashes enough to have to go to the emergency room, it’s just sad. And these children can’t help it.”
Emily Morgan, committee chair for the diaper bank, said even working parents can struggle to keep supplies stocked for their children.
“Diapers are such a huge expense,” Morgan said. “I'm a mother of two, so I've seen how much diapers cost. And I was a young mom with my first child. I was working full-time and there were times that I struggled financially. So I experienced firsthand that feeling of not being able to fully provide for your child.”
Morgan said her community helped her when she needed it, so she wants to do that for others through the diaper bank.
Diapers may seem like a simple need, but there are a lot of layers to why they’re so critical. Morgan and Nix both said that when parents can’t provide diapers for their children, those children can’t go to daycare — providing diapers to the daycare is typically required — which means the parent can’t go to work or school.
When the parent can’t get an education or work because they have to watch their child, that means they aren’t able to provide other things for their family, like footing the hospital bill when a child ends up in the emergency room with diaper rash.
“It’s like a domino effect,” Morgan said. “And if we can stop the domino from falling in the first place, that’s a good thing.”
Even though Junior League takes the diaper donations, it’s not the one that distributes them to families. For those who are in need of diapers, they must go through one of the four agencies in the area that Junior League has partnered with: Family Promise of Hall County, Little Steps Community Daycare Center, Sisu and Gateway Domestic Violence Center.
Families must apply through those agencies, which then request the amount of diapers needed. The families that apply and are approved are then given diapers monthly.
Family Promise doesn’t require an application process, however. It gives out diapers to the public on the first and third Wednesday of each month.
So far, more than 45,000 diapers have been distributed to the diaper bank’s partner agencies. It’s helped 409 families care for 699 children. Almost all of the diapers were collected during the fall and spring diaper drives Junior League held.
The Diaper Bank of North Georgia was also recently added to the National Diaper Bank Network, which will allow it to help more people by providing more diapers, offering programs and education for Junior League and allowing it to apply for financial grants for more diapers and resources for families.
Donations come to the diaper bank in all forms, and Nix wants people to know they shouldn’t toss that half-empty package of diapers that no longer fit their child.
“Packages that have been opened, we can use those and re-package them,” Nix said. “When my child finished a size in diapers, I would just set them aside and not know what to do with them … We re-package those in packs of 25 per size and give them out to the agencies.”
Junior League hopes to have the Diaper Bank of North Georgia running on its own in about five years, so until then, it will continue doing everything it can to help families provide for their children and putting a stop to that domino effect.
“Just to be able to alleviate a little bit of financial burden on these families … that's wonderful,” Morgan said.