Bundle of Need
Through the Junior League’s Diaper Bank, businesses can help give local families the gift of health and peace this holiday season and year-round.
Meredith Duke, Elizabeth Joint and Taylor Burgmon
Photographs by Cheryl Gerber
Go to any baby shower and you’ll see a gift table that likely includes a cute faux cake made out of diapers or diaper teddy bears and maybe even two or three plain cartons of diapers. Adorable onesies and cuddly stuffed lambs are sweet, but all mothers know the three important things needed to raise a healthy baby are love, food and diapers.
Babies need six to 10 diapers per day, which easily adds up to $70 to $80 per month. For those who can’t afford to buy a package of diapers, that can mean having to ration, keeping a baby in the same diaper from dusk to dawn.
According to “Diaper Need and Its Impact on U.S. Families,” a report done by the National Diaper Bank Network, one in three U.S. families (or 36 percent) continues to be in diaper need, or struggles to provide enough diapers to keep a baby or toddler clean, dry and healthy. Diaper banks around the country help meet the diaper need by providing diapers to more than 250,000 infants and toddlers each month.
Locally, the Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) has taken on the charge of assisting low-income parents with their diaper needs with an effort the organization has created as part of its focus on advancing the wellbeing of women. In 2014, its first year running a diaper bank, JLNO distributed 90,000 diapers. It has since exploded in growth, distributing 95,000 diapers just this past August. Since 2014, the JLNO Diaper Bank has distributed more than 1 million diapers; It’s currently on track to hit that same number in 2018 alone.
JLNO’s Journey to Diapers
In 1923, 10 New Orleans women dedicated to improving Metropolitan New Orleans recruited like-minded volunteers and joined the Association of Junior Leagues International. JLNO now counts approximately 2,200 provisional, active and sustaining members, making it the eighth-largest league in the world. Its platform of volunteerism goes way beyond providing diapers for families. JLNO members have given their time and talents to organizations including The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital, Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, Parkway Partners and the Louisiana Nature and Science Center.
The impetus for starting a diaper bank started in 2013, when a JLNO member read an article about a mother who was struggling to provide diapers for her baby. Learning about diaper banks, she proposed that JLNO start one in New Orleans. The organization’s project development committee, along with members of its board of directors, researched diaper need and diaper banks and determined that JLNO was well equipped to address this need in the Greater New Orleans area.
A Domino Effect
“One small thing really does make a big difference,” said JLNO President Alice Franz Glenn. “A sufficient supply of diapers helps the entire family, and their lack has a profound and complex impact on families, including health risks like rashes and urinary tract infections for children and mental problems for parents and children.”
The lack of such a simple supply can have a wide range of negative outcomes. Without diapers, babies cannot attend childcare or participate in early childhood education, and without childcare, parents cannot go to school or work to further their education and provide for their families. Of families in diaper need, three in five parents (or 57 percent) miss work or school due to a lack of sufficient diapers required by child care, day care or early education programs to care for a baby or toddler. As a result, parents experiencing diaper need missed an average of four days of work or school in the past month. It’s a debilitating cycle.
“I’ve been a supporter of the Diaper Bank since its inception, but having my first child in 2016 really crystalized for me the critical importance of having all the essential supplies you need to keep your baby healthy,” said Glenn. “Having a baby is stressful and challenging under even the best circumstances, so anything that can be done to support parents and babies is not wasted.”
JLNO donates diapers to a wide range of organizations, including Access Health, Covenant House and the St. Thomas Community Health, along with daycare centers including Giggles Child Development Center, Cuddly Bear Child Development, and Rainbow Academy and Preschool.
Rainbow Academy and Preschool, a Seventh Ward daycare center, works with 100 infants and toddlers daily and monthly receives 40 to 50 cases of diapers, all sizes, from JLNO Diaper Bank.
“That donation of diapers is a tremendous help to us,” said Tomika Suarez, the center’s director. “Childcare is very expensive for parents, and after they pay tuition or partial tuition, they still have to come out-of-pocket for diapers. These donated diapers bring joy to the parents and joy to me. It means I can relieve them of that burden. It’s one less financial strain on them. That puts them in a better place because they have less stress and because of that, they can have a better and healthier relationship with their children.”
One in three families in the United States struggles to provide enough diapers to keep their child clean, dry and healthy. Since 2014, JLNO Diaper Bank has distributed more than 1 million diapers to local families. The organization is on track to hit the 1 million mark again just for 2018.
Junior League’s Diaperbank
To provide diapers to local families who cannot afford them. Leveraging the strength of its entire membership, JLNO will raise community awareness of the diaper need, host diaper drives, buy diapers at a highly discounted rate, provide volunteer support for sorting, packing and distributing diapers, and store diapers.
How Individuals and Businesses Can Help
Donate Diapers. Drop off disposable diapers of any size, including open packages, at JLNO Headquarters (4319 Carondelet Street, New Orleans — open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or at any collection location. For a list of drop-off sites, visit jlno.org/community/diaper-bank/diaper-drive-locations.
Host a Diaper Drive.
Motivate your school, business, church or social group to collect and purchase diapers.
Purchase from JLNO’s Amazon Wish List.
Visit Amazon and search for “Junior League of New Orleans Diaper Bank” to buy and ship directly to the organization.
Donate Dollars for Diapers.
Make a financial contribution on the organization’s website or by mail to JLNO Headquarters.
Use social media or other digital platforms to share facts about diaper need and raise community awareness.
“Having a baby is stressful and challenging under even the best circumstances, so anything that can be done to support parents and babies is not wasted.”
Alice Franz, JLNO president
Local businesses looking for a way to give back this holiday season can host a diaper drive or take donations to purchase items off of JLNO Diaper Bank’s Amazon wish list. The diaper bank operates year-round to serve local families.
Did You Know?
65 percent of families are unaware that diaper banks offer diaper assistance in their respective community, even though the number of diaper banks has grown to more than 300 from 40 in recent years.
3 in 4 families in need also identify as experiencing economic hardship (defined as the inability to pay reasonable and necessary living expenses including rent or mortgage, utilities, food, transportation, healthcare and basic needs).
73 percent of all families feel they’re not being good parents when their children are left too long in dirty diapers, while one-in-three households in need experience feeling stressed or overwhelmed by diapering always or often.
31 percent of infants and toddlers with at least one parent who works full-time live in low-income families.
47 percent of all births on average in the United States are covered by Medicaid.
0 government programs provide diapers as a basic need for babies.