When it comes to diapers, the need can be never-ending.
Just ask Lauren Stoklasa, who’s involved with a project called, “52 Weeks of Diapers — Helping Little Behinds Get a Little Ahead.”
“Just to show the need — in August alone — we have served 26 children in need of diapers in six days,” said Stoklasa, who is part of the 52 Weeks committee.
Now, project coordinators are working to get banks in Fremont involved in a September diaper drive.
The 52 weeks project, launched in November, involves asking businesses, churches, clubs, schools and community organizations to adopt one week in 2019 to host a diaper drive.
And earlier this year, thousands of diapers were being collected and taken to the Fremont Community Diaper Bank for distribution to those in need.
But due to spring flooding, no diaper donations were received in March or April, said Stoklasa, director of Sixpence, which serves local families with prenatal children and those ages 0 to 3.
Stoklasa said Sixpence donated 8,000 (individual) diapers to the Fremont Community Diaper Bank in June.
Diapers donated for flood victims were brought to Fremont City Auditorium.
Stoklasa said 7,500 diapers not picked up at the auditorium also went to the community diaper bank this summer.
But the need is great, said Nan Cunningham, a Fremont Kiwanis Club member involved in the endeavor.
“While the donations are down, the requests have really risen due to the flood and people generally needing diapers — so we’re gearing up again. We’re doing a bank competition in Fremont,” Cunningham said.
Next month, local banks are asked to host a drive in which employees and customers bring in disposable diapers.
“We’ll pick them up and take them to the diaper bank,” Cunningham said. “At the end of the month, the diapers will be counted and the winning bank will receive an ice cream party hosted by Sixpence.”
Any sizes or brands of disposable diapers will be accepted.
Donors can drop diapers off at the Olson Engagement Center at 445 E. First St.
People, who need diapers, can call the Sixpence office at 402-727-0496 and request an appointment for the diaper bank. No pre-qualifications are necessary.
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“Nobody is turned away,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham and Carie Schmidt, Sixpence coordinator, have talked about the need for diapers in the community.
Schmidt said national statistics indicate one of every three families struggle to provide their little ones with enough diapers for the month.
That would mean more than 600 children in Fremont don’t have the diapers they need, according to these statistics and Fremont’s population of children ages 0 to 5, published in the 2016 Community Well-Being Data Report by Fremont Area United Way.
On average, disposable diapers cost about $150 a month, which means families may be forgoing money to pay bills and buy groceries, Schmidt said.
Many daycares only accept disposable diapers, so families can be missing out on work and school because they don’t have enough diapers to send with their children.
Some may wonder why families facing financial difficulties don’t use cloth diapers, but Schmidt said it costs — on average — $1,200 to get everything needed to start with cloth diapers.
And there’s a trend with the area’s low-income families, who struggle with laundering.
“They don’t have a unit in their house to wash clothes or struggle with money to pay at the laundry mat or the transportation to get to the laundry mat, especially in the winter when they can’t walk,” Schmidt said.
Other factors — such as an unexpected financial hardship or family crisis — can lead to the need for diapers.
Stoklasa said when families come in to get diapers, they’re connected to community resources they may need.
“We know if they’re struggling obtaining diapers that they are struggling making ends meet elsewhere,” Stoklasa said. “So it truly is a whole community collaboration project.”
Stoklasa believes the need has always been in the community, but families are just now learning about the diaper project.
Cunningham said businesses and organizations are being reached — not just for donations, but also to create awareness.
“We have discovered through the flood that we are a community of caring people and we’re just trying to meet the need of families who daily struggle with trying to provide for their children,” Cunningham said.
The Fremont Area United Way, Sixpence, Lutheran Family Services, Kiwanis, Good Neighbor Community Health Center and Women Infants and Children (WIC) formed the Fremont Diaper Drive Committee in 2018. For more information, contact Schmidt at 402-727-0496.