D.C.-area families struggling to afford the basics, such as food and keeping kids in diapers, are making tough choices that are only becoming more difficult with pandemic-related stresses.
“People who are using all sorts of things as hygiene products,” said Shelly Tucker, executive director of the Maryland Diaper Bank, or MDB.
“They had been using newspaper as the child’s diaper,” Tucker said, recalling the situation of a family seeking aid from one of the group’s community partners.
Tucker said even some middle class families are finding it difficult to keep up with their little one’s diaper supply needs.
The Maryland Diaper Bank has partnered with nonprofit community organizations that serve families with children 5 and under in Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties.
“We know if a family comes in and they are in need of food or clothing, they’re probably also in need of diapers,” Tucker said.
In Northern Virginia, a holiday diaper drive sponsored by the Office of Fairfax County Supervisor Dan Storck, of the Mount Vernon District, was prompted by a visit to Bryant High School, where the needs of students, particularly those with young children, can be great.
Dropping off clothing donations, staffers asked how else they could help and were told that students especially need diapers for their children.
“The need in our communities is great this holiday season, and it was difficult to choose one cause to support. In this case, lifelong resident Donna Slaymaker in our office has a strong connection to our community that enables her to identify causes our residents can really connect with,” Storck said.
“Since we put out the call, donations are pouring in and we hope to have a mountain of diapers to deliver in January! Thank you to everyone who has and will contribute!” Storck said.
The Greater D.C. Diaper Bank also is accepting donations at more than 140 drop-off locations region wide.
Diaper banks sponsor myriad services.
A Maryland Diaper Bank program for new moms provides them with about $125 worth of “pretty much everything that a mom would need for the first couple of months of their baby’s life,” Tucker said.
You can support the Maryland Diaper Bank’s mission by donating diapers and related supplies from its Amazon wish list.
To support babies and their mothers, who may lack typical support systems because of the pandemic, the MDB is also partnering with the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center to provide Mommy Postpartum Boxes.
“These boxes contain self-care items to let mom know, that ‘You are enough. You are visible. We see you and also take care of yourself,'” Tucker said. “You can do it, you’ve got it and you are enough.”
Each box contains items, such as face masks, journals, pens, healthy snacks, gum, lip gloss and a keepsake.
“We partnered with the MDB because it’s a great way to show that the entire community cares about mommies and babies both during and after the pregnancy,” said Women’s Services Nurse Manager Monique Smalls-Dillard. “Our moms absolutely love the postpartum gift box.”