A month-long diaper drive for Upstate bambinos and bambinas is underway.
During the month of September, the Mauldin-based nonprofit diaper bank hopes to collect one million diapers for area families in need.
“[Upstate families] get help, but they don’t get help with diapers,” said Ernestine Whittenberg, executive director and founder of Diaper Bank of the Carolinas. “The most important part of this is that by helping them, the babies can get changed at least eight to 10 times a day. And then what happens is they’re growing in a safe, healthy environment.”
Whittenberg founded the organization after she noticed a need through her work as a parent educator providing developmental screenings through home visits. She said she saw babies in wet, dirty, saggy diapers that needed to be changed.
Financial hardship is often the biggest factor limiting a family’s ability to purchase diapers, according to Whittenberg.
“I understand that there are between 4,600 kids in Greenville County who live below the poverty line,” said William Schmidt, medical director of the GHS Children’s Hospital. “The poverty line in this state is a little less than $25,000 per year for a family of four… It costs $70 to $80 a month to keep children in diapers. This is a phenomenal effort.”
Rosylin Weston, a board member for Diaper Bank of the Carolinas, said the organization’s mission is to go beyond combating the negative health impacts from dirty diapers, such as diaper rash and urinary tract infections. It also hopes to battle developmental and behavioral problems by promoting a healthy and happy home environment.
The organization said there is no state or federal aid available for the purchase of diapers. Diapers can’t be purchased with food stamps or WIC vouchers.
“We were in immediately,” said Mark Johnston, publisher and president of Community Journals. “I can’t imagine a young mother that doesn’t have the means to purchase the diapers she needs… and the additional strain of having screaming babies in dirty diapers… We are proud to be a part of this.”
Diaper Bank of the Carolinas encouraged Upstate residents to support its efforts by:
-Buying diapers and drop them off at designated locations.
-Hosting a diaper drive at your church, office, school, book club, or neighborhood.
-Donating dollars for diapers via the organization’s website.
-Encouraging friendly competition between family, friends, and coworkers.
-Spreading the word on all social media platforms.
-Shareing success by posting pictures and the results of diaper drives on the organization’s Facebook page.
Operation Dry Baby Bottoms was announced Friday during a launch event at the headquarters of the organization’s partner Greenville-based St. Clair Signs at 1334 Miller Road in Greenville.
Hugh St. Clair, president of St. Clair Signs, has agreed to store the diapers collected during the campaign.
Diapers can also be delivered to the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the Community Journals headquarters at 581 Perry Avenue in Greenville, and other Diaper Bank of the Carolinas’ drop-off locations
The full list of those drop-off locations is available on the organization’s website.