By KAREN STRUBLE MYERS
United Way of the Southern Alleghenies President & CEO
Every month, United Way of the Southern Alleghenies works with a network of 14 locations from Northern Cambria to Salisbury.
The spots have become diaper hubs in communities, a reliable place where families can pick up a supplemental supply of diapers every 30 days. Bundles of 25 diapers are provided for each infant and toddler, which represents the average number of diapers families fall short each month.
Small Town Hope is the diaper bank in Northern Cambria, where Mandi Paronish said it has become a crucial part of her child care center.
"Having a diaper bank in a small town is awesome because it ensures the well-being of infants by introducing and reinforcing the presence of community support that is here to help. I can say with certainty, the small packages for small bottoms that leave our center are largely appreciated in the community of Northern Cambria and surrounding areas," she said.
Knoxville, Tennessee, nonprofit Helping Mamas compiled some eye-opening facts about diaper need that also impact the families United Way's network serves.
The average diaper supply costs about $80 a month for each child. It's a cost that often lines up against food, housing, and utilities in a household spending plan. Can you imagine having to decide what to cut from the budget?
In addition to basic hygiene concerns, which can lead to health issues, a lack of diapers can prevent parents from working. Most day cares and preschools require that diapers be provided with children. Parents who can't afford diapers must stay home with their children, creating lost work hours. This compounds the problem.
Helping Mamas describes diaper banks like United Way's as "beacons of hope for families." Our strategic locations in our rural service area provide a reliable place for families to get diapers. Think about something in your life that you rely upon each day. Now, envision that it has been taken away, with no way to bring it back. Our diaper bank is a safety net for families, helping caregivers to have a peace of mind, and even improving maternal mental health.
It's the tangible part of United Way's extensive effort to provide growing families with early childhood education and developmental programming that nurtures moms, starting at 28 weeks before birth. Our programs help to make sure children are developing on schedule, and are ready emotionally, socially, and academically for kindergarten.
Diapers are an often unsung, yet core part, of raising a child.
As a community, we can sustain the United Way Diaper Bank. We can make sure that there are always diapers in our distribution locations, so that every bottom is covered.
But, our supply is running low, and we need your help. Please consider a donation to our Diaper Bank today. We will use the money to buy diapers in the size of greatest need. You can support our diaper bank network by sending your gift to UWSA, 422 Main Street, Suite 203, Johnstown, PA 15901. Put "Diaper Bank" in the subject line of checks. Diapers can be bought online and shipped to that address, as well.
Together, we are United for children and families.