CEDAR RAPIDS — A communitywide effort should stock the Eastern Iowa Diaper Bank with a year’s supply of diapers for local families in need.
The Eastern Iowa Health Center, YPN and HACAP have partnered with Hy-Vee stores in Cedar Rapids, Marion, Iowa City and Coralville to collect diapers for the fourth annual Operation Diaper Drive.
The goal is to collect 150,000 diapers by Sunday.
Erin Langdon, with the Eastern Iowa Health Center, said families in need will receive diapers through an incentive-based program. By participating in “healthy behaviors,” such as parenting classes, prenatal doctors’ visits, well-child exams or obtaining a GED, parents can earn points to redeem for diapers.
“It’s encouraging those healthy behaviors that will help break the cycle of poverty and give families the diapers they need,” Langdon said.
The drive has collected more than 76,000 diapers since Oct. 1.
Disposable diapers and wipes can be donated at Hy-Vee food and drug stores, the Eastern Iowa Health Center and YPN (formerly Young Parents Network). 420 Sixth St. SE. Financial donations also are accepted at easterniowahealthcenter.com, which will help the center buy diapers through the National Diaper Bank Network.
All sizes and brands of diapers are welcome, including opened packages.
“We’re really thankful for community support,” Langdon said, adding the program helps 2,000 families in Eastern Iowa each year.
One in three families struggle to provide clean diapers for their baby, according to the Eastern Iowa Diaper Bank.
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Low-income families can spend about 14 percent of their paychecks on diapers. On average, a month’s supply of diapers costs $80, and a year’s supply costs nearly $1,000.
Most day-care centers require parents to provide a daily supply of diapers. When families don’t have enough diapers, parents are forced to stay home instead of working or going to school.
Langdon said the diaper drive was started when the Eastern Iowa Health Center staff realized patients could not afford them.
The health center reached out to YPN, which already was giving out 25,000 diapers a year.
Now, they distribute that many diapers in a month, said Tisha Ritter, director of development at YPN.
“If that’s one less expense they have to worry about every month, it helps stretch their dollar farther,” Ritter said.
It also ensures baby’s diapers are being changed regularly. “It’s really a health issue,” she said.
Ritter thinks the diaper drive is something anyone — parent or not — can relate to.
In the first year, Langdon said, 100,000 diapers were distributed. Since January 2017, 400,000 diapers have been given out.
Last year, Operation Diaper Drive set a goal of collecting 200,000 diapers.
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