TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Michelle Kennedy strolled the Topeka Zoo Friday with her nephew. It's good practice for the birth of her first child in two months. One lesson already learned? Diapers are a big deal!
Michelle says she's asked her sister to tell everyone to give her diapers for her baby shower because she knows how expensive they are.
That's no joke. A study released by Yale University researchers earlier this summer found nearly a third of moms report struggling to afford diapers for their children. One in 12 women in the study admit leaving their little one in a soiled diaper to stretch their supply.
The Junior League of Topeka's Diaper Depot was formed to address what health experts say is a big concern for a child's physical and emotional well-being. Volunteers with the program were collecting donations Friday at the Topeka Zoo, ahead of National Diaper Needs Awareness Week, Sept. 8 to 14.
Amanda Vogelsberg, a volunteer with the Diaper Depot, said government assistance programs don't help to buy diapers and there was no other diaper bank in the area, so the Junior League stepped in.
The Diaper Depot provides up to 50 diapers a month for children up to age two. Families apply through Let's Help.
Health experts say having clean diapers is vital to a child's health. Soiled diapers can lead to infections and diaper rash. Children in soiled diapers also show signs of irritation and distress, which can contribute to depression and increased stress for parents.
The Diaper Depot began distribution in May and already is helping 100 children. Vogelsberg says the more diapers donated to the program, the more children it can help.
Currently, the program focuses on distributing disposable diapers. Vogelsberg says many people with lower incomes do not have the means to launder cloth diapers and many laundry facilities will not allow diapers to be washed in their machines. In addition, she said many child care facilities require parents to provide disposable diapers, not allowing a cloth option while in their care.
Several more diaper drives are planned for the awareness week. People can bring full or partial packages to the Kansas Children's Discovery Center from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday , Sept. 12; Hy-Vee at SW 29th and Wanamaker from 11 am to 7 pm, Friday, Sept. 13; or Via's Pizzeria, 11 am to 9 pm Monday thru Thursday of next week, 11 am to 10 pm next Friday. In addition, CoreFirst Bank will accept diaper donations at its South Topeka Blvd. office during business hours next week.
Regular dropoff sites for the program are the Mission and Soldier Township Fire Departments, USD 501's Parents as Teachers program, and Kirk and Cobb Realty. The program also accepts cash donations.