Last spring, several congregations in Muscatine learned that area daycares could not take children whose families could not provide diapers for them, leaving their parents in a difficult situation. Wanting to help, the congregations held a diaper drive and donated them to several childcare centers. While the daycares appreciated the donations, they used them up quickly, and the drive’s organizers found out that many other facilities needed diapers as well. As Aleese Baldwin, pastor of Shepherd of the Cross Lutheran Church, one of the drive’s creators, put it, “it was a band aid fix.”
Baldwin did some research and discovered that on average, it costs $70 per month to buy diapers for a single child and that one out of every three families with young children cannot afford this expense. Wanting to do something to improve this situation locally, she approached Whitney Howell, Director of Early Childhood Iowa, Muscatine County (ECIMC). Howell welcomed collaboration between the spring diaper drive’s original organizers and ECIMC. Since helping families get the diapers they need aligns well with ECIMC’s mission to help children from birth to five years old have healthy childhoods and remove barriers from their families, Howell could offer a lot of support.
Howell helped Baldwin and others organize the Community Diaper Bank, an organization that collects diapers for other community service agencies to use free of charge. With a generous donation of warehouse space from Warehouse Solutions, along with financial oversight from United Way, Howell got the Community Diaper Bank up and running. As it continues to grow, Howell looks forward to having it join the National Diaper Bank Network, which will allow it access to donations from the Huggies company, discounts on diaper purchases, and resources for how best to run their program.
With the Community Diaper Bank open, Baldwin and Howell have teamed up again to fill it with community donations. From November 10th through the 17th, area churches, Muscatine Community College, the Muscatine Community Y, the Muskie Early Learning Center, Pearl City Plaza, and the Salvation Army of Muscatine will have donation areas for both diapers and money. Additionally, Hy-Vee will have donation slips in their diaper aisle where people can buy a certain number of diapers and Hy-Vee will drop them off as a mass delivery. Finally, on Saturday, November 16th, the Salvation Army will have a donation trailer at Walmart as a final push to fill the Community Diaper Bank.
As the Community Diaper Bank becomes an established part of Muscatine, both Baldwin and Howell feel good about the possibilities it will offer and hope you will contribute to its success. “I’m excited to help bring this to the community,” Howell stated. “It’s exciting for me to see others in the community come together and say, yes, this is important,” added Baldwin.