Editorial: Diaper drives help families stretch dollars

  • "You can spend up to $30 for diapers a week, it's only a little amount, but it adds up." Tashina Bowman said as she holds her six-month-old son Benjamin Huntoon in her living room Tuesday, July 19, 2016 in Amherst. Tanisha has been getting her diapers through the Amherst Survival Center's free diaper program.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

People short on money who run households, particularly those with infants, have to spend carefully. Buy gas to get to work, or groceries? Fuel oil or medication?

How about diapers for the baby?

Too often, it is the baby’s health and well-being on the line. As many as one of every three families here in the Valley and across the United States is forced to choose between buying enough disposable diapers and putting food on the table.

Safety net efforts like food stamps and the federal Women, Infants and Children program do not cover the cost of diapers. Thankfully, people in these parts don’t like the idea of infants being forced to remain in soiled diapers longer than they should because their parents struggle to afford new ones.

Last year, the Amherst Survival Center raised awareness about this problem and struck a chord with kind-hearted people around the region. A drive gathered 34,000 disposable diapers that have been distributed in the center’s 13-town area in Hampshire and Franklin counties. Answering the same challenge, the United Way of Hampshire County spearheaded a diaper drive that collected 40,000 of them last year and is aiming to gather 50,000 this year, plus 100,000 baby wipes.

At the Amherst Survival Center, parents can obtain a free five-day supply of diapers each month, easing the burden of this expense, which can run to over $100 a month for one infant.

Doctors note that when parents try to stretch the use of disposable diapers, they put children at risk of rashes and urinary tract infections. One Springfield-area physician interviewed by the Gazette is so concerned about the problem he’s working with other doctors to create a diaper bank for low-income families.

Parents of grown children surely empathize with those caring for little ones today. That explains why the local diaper drives have done so well. We hope that continues. These parents also know that these donations have a short lifespan. This is a gift a caring community needs to keep on giving.

To learn more about the Amherst Survival Center’s effort, visit amherstsurvival.org. For drop-off sites in the related United Way collection, which runs through Aug. 13, visit uwhampshire.org/uwhc-diaper-drive.

They’ve cooked up a great slogan at the United Way for this one: “Change for the better.”