Did you know that according to the New York Times, one in four children in America live on food stamps? Did you know that you can’t use food stamps to purchase diapers? On average, the cost for diapers is approximately $100.00 per child, per month. Can you imagine having to choose between buying food for your baby and putting clean diapers on his/her bottom?
As a mother of three, I vividly recall worrying about all kinds of things while my girls were babies. Are they developing on schedule? Are they eating enough solid foods? Are their sleeping patterns normal? Luckily, I was fortunate enough not to have to worry about their basic human needs. Like most moms of young children, sleep deprivation and stress ruled the day. To think that many moms also have to deal with the anxiety of balancing their checkbooks by deciding between food and diapers is unimaginable.
In 2005, a phenomenally inspiring woman named Caroline Kunitz learned of the predicament that low-income mothers often face. She was a new mom herself and heartbroken imagining what it must be like for her fellow mothers. Caroline teamed up with a friend and created the non-profit organization, LA Diaper Drive. Last year, with the help of an all-volunteer staff, LA Diaper Drive gave 1.3 million diapers to low-income families in Los Angeles. This forward- thinking organization has devised creative avenues for distributing their diapers. They have partnered with 22 organizations, such as The Children’s Institute, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and Catholic Charities, to name a few. Together, these organizations incentivize low-income parents to attend beneficial classes in exchange for diapers (classes include life skills, GED prep, parenting, etc…). Attendance in these classes has doubled and at times tripled when diapers are used as an incentive.
It has been found that infants need up to 10 diaper changes per day. Huggies Every Little Bottom Study found that one-third of all moms in LA are struggling to provide enough diapers for their babies. Low-income moms who cannot provide enough clean disposable diapers are often times unable to enroll their babies in daycare facilities (most do not allow cloth diapers for sanitary reasons). This prohibits them from being able to gain employment and perpetuates their situation.
The LA Diaper Drive is the second largest diaper bank in the country. In October of 2011, they participated in the Social Innovation Fast Pitch Competion, held by the Annenberg Foundation. LA Diaper Drive took top honors and received both the Judges Award and the Los Angeles Social Venture Partners (LASVP) Award. They will also receive mentoring and philanthropic support from LASVP for the next three years.
Caroline’s passion for her work is infectious. She shared so many heartbreaking statistics during our conversation, that I was moved to share her cause with my Pier to Peer partners and readers. This coming Mother’s Day, Pier to Peer will host our very own diaper drive in the South Bay. We look forward to rallying together in support of our fellow mothers right here in our own backyard. In the meantime, there are so many ways to participate during this season of giving. Check out www.diaperdrive.com to see how you can help.