Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank
by Britni Logan
*The only edits to the paper are photo’s added to give the reader a visual perspective and removal of a diaper recipient’s name to protect her privacy. Thank you Britni for spending your time with us, we love you and miss you very much.
Diaper need is defined as the lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to keep a baby clean, dry, and healthy (“Diaper Need in America”). Diapers are expensive, there is no arguing that. Most babies require twelve diapers per day, while toddlers require around eight. Most families pay roughly seventy to eighty dollars a month on diapers for just one child. But sadly, 5.2 million children in the U.S. aged three or younger live in poor or low-income families (“Diaper Need in America”). Diapers are vital for a baby’s health though. If a baby remains in a soiled diaper for too long they could be exposed to many potential health risks. A parent never wants to be put in a situation where they have to choose diapers over things like food and clothing. State aid programs like Food Stamps and WIC will cover formula and food, but none will cover diapers and wipes, despite them being so vital for infants. In the community of Galesburg, Illinois, there were very few options on what to do in the need of diapers. There are many stores to buy diapers from, but it would cost money; a few programs that exchange classes for diapers, but that would cost time. If only there was a way to get just enough diapers only when you needed them. In 2015, LeeAnn Porter sought to satisfy that need.
“I experienced it when my first husband left. I had three kids and I couldn’t afford things like diapers, dish soap, laundry soap… So, when I heard about diaper banks years later it really spoke to my heart and I knew something needed to be done, something I hadn’t had when I was struggling (Porter). Thus, the Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank was formed. The bank’s mission is to “Provide an adequate and reliable supply of diapers to families experiencing financial hardship while engaging the community and raising awareness for diaper need” (“Mission & History).
Loving Bottoms was founded by LeeAnn Porter (stated above) back in 2015. What started out being her and a few friends wrapping diapers in her living room has turned into an organization that stretches over multiple counties and has its own warehouse. Now the bank has volunteers come from all over to help collect diapers from many drop off spots and wrap them to distribute to numerous partnerships. “When we started I never imagined that we would serve anything other than Knox County. We find though that as we raise awareness that there are babies in our communities that don’t have enough diapers to get changed regularly, that interest continues to grow. We are now in five counties and it still seems too crazy!” (Porter).
Loving Bottoms meets multiple times a month to collect and wrap diapers. Now that they are in their own warehouse, businesses and partnerships are able to come to them to pick up diapers. Before they moved to a new building, Porter and volunteers would have to pull out packs of diapers and deliver them to each location. As well as regular diaper wrapping nights, the bank also hosts fundraisers throughout the year. Bank volunteers have done things such as bag groceries at Hy-Vee, work at Pizza Ranch, host Trivia Nights, and hold many diaper drives. The volunteers themselves create an impact on the community. Girl Scout Troops, junior-high homeschoolers, entire families, college students doing community service, employees from the partnerships, and many more diverse people come to the bank every month to help support the cause. In 2017, 94 volunteers donated 346 hours to Loving Bottoms. The diaper bank also works with many partnerships to get diapers out to families in need. Salvation Army and Jamieson Community Center both allow anyone to walk in and collect diapers regularly as needed. Other agencies focus their support on specific clients but are still available for help. Those agencies include Spoon River Pregnancy Center, West Central Sparklers & Friends, Cradles to Crayons, Learning Connections of Galesburg, Eaglets & Friends Early Childhood Program, and Watch Me Grow. All together Loving Bottoms serves Knox, Fulton, Henderson, Mercer and Warren County. Between all of the partnerships, the diaper bank has been able to serve 1,494 children in 2017.
Breea Cook worked with one of the banks’ partnerships, Learning Connections of Galesburg. This is where she heard about the bank and about volunteering options. Before the bank got their warehouse, they were using an empty classroom at the daycare to wrap and store their diapers. “One day our boss asked us to stay after a meeting to help with the diaper bank. I brought my three-year-old son with me and he loved helping out!” (Cook). Breea’s job was to count out the diapers and pass them on to the next person to wrap into their packages. Once wrapped they got passed down to her son and he stacked them onto their designated piles. “Everyone was so nice and easy to talk to. I only went that one time, but I would love to help again. I wish I had known about the bank before my son was potty trained” (Cook). Having just recently moved to the area, it was nice to be doing good to the community and getting to know some of the members. Even though Breea has never gotten diapers through the bank, she has a few friends who have and knows how beneficial it has been for them.
“We distributed 75,574 diapers in 2017!” (Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank). This number impacted so many families in 2017. Whether someone just needed to get by until their next paycheck or someone just couldn’t afford diapers, Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank was there for them. The Bank’s goal is not to supply all the diapers a family needs, but to fill the gap between what they can afford and what they actually need. They find that a family is short by approximately 50 diapers a month. One five-star Facebook review says, “This is the real deal. Truly a grassroots group of folks who are making it happen and making the very most of every diaper and dollar.” This is not a single opinion. Many parents who collect diapers through the bank have had a life-changing experience. “We consider diapers to be a gateway resource. Families often come in because they need diapers and then the agencies we partner with can talk to them, they can find out about other issues the family is facing and they can come around them to offer more services. That might be food from a pantry, they might be facing eviction, help with finding work, going back to school, or any number of other services” (Porter).
Seventy-three 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. Of families in diaper need, three-in-five parents miss work or school due to a lack of sufficient diapers required by childcare (Kimberly Clark). The diaper bank impacts the lives of many in our surrounding community.
In 2016, <name removed> found herself living alone with a young little girl. She had a handful of diapers left and a week until she got paid. Her daughter’s daycare was also out of diapers and was currently borrowing diapers from other kids to get her by. When <name removed> expressed how she couldn’t afford more diapers, her daycare teachers told her about Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank. <name removed> quickly went over to Salvation Army to check if she could get some diapers. “Loving Bottoms helped by supplying my daughter with a decent sized pack of diapers for no cost. I was SO thankful for them. I was so happy they helped that I cried. I don’t know what I would have done if my daughter had run completely out of diapers” (Removed). To her and her baby, a pack of diapers meant the world. Between working full time and having to pay for childcare costs, food, clothes, and everything else, diapers would have been a make it or break it deal for a single mother. Since that first time, <name removed> has gone back and gotten more diapers a few times while she was in between jobs. “I would definitely recommend them to other parents and actually have told many parents about them. Every baby deserves a clean, happy bottom and every parent needs help from time to time” (Removed). Now <name removed> is back on her feet with an amazing fiancé and another little girl, but she’ll always remember when Loving Bottoms was there for her when she needed it.
Just in the first month of 2018, Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank has been able to collect 12,520 diapers to distribute out to families. With the 50 diapers a month to one family logic, this means the bank has already been able to help roughly 250 families with their diaper needs. Just imagine where they can go the rest of the year. “This year we have been able to move to a larger warehouse office space that we believe will allow us to grow and reach many more families. We anticipate distributing around 130,000 diapers this year. We are working to streamline our processes, develop our strategic plan, and work to secure funding to continue to grow. If I were to have a great big dream it is to become a regional distribution center for West Central Illinois. With so many rural counties that don’t have the resources to start something like this, we would like to fill that gap. Because ultimately no baby should ever have to stay in a soiled diaper because there are not enough diapers to change them” (Porter). Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank has and will continue to make a huge impact on the surrounding community. Thanks to them hundreds of families can provide diapers for their children during rough times.