Story by Rachel Holt
“By focusing on ‘Diaper Need’, the Idaho Diaper Bank works to meet the basic needs of children and families. Diapers, often a hidden consequence of poverty, are essential to a child’s wellbeing and healthy development,” shared Shawna Walz, Founder and Executive Director of the Idaho Diaper Bank (IDB).
Drawing on her own experiences in becoming a parent, Walz founded the Idaho Diaper Bank nonprofit in 2014.
“I felt very blessed that I had everything I needed…financial resources, supportive family, a loving husband, a stable home, and more,” Walz said, “Even with those resources at my disposal I realized that raising kids is a Herculean task. As I thought about that, it was clear to me that there were mothers who didn’t have these resources. I looked at the poverty surrounding me and couldn’t imagine the degree of stress that the babies and their parents were encountering.“
Each month, the IDB nonprofit provides over 40,000 diapers and diapering supplies as well as incontinence supplies to more than 40 partner distribution organizations around the state to distribute to local families. This year, IDB is launching their ‘Warehouse on Wheels’ program to help bring diapers to families in rural counties around the state of Idaho.
“In Idaho, there are over 35,000 children under the age of 3 who are living in low income or poverty. As it turns out, many of these families are juggling to provide basics for their babies: food, shelter and hygiene. When it comes to hygiene, there is ZERO governmental assistance to help the families; food stamps cannot be used to purchase diapers. And, diapers are expensive.”
The IDB acquires diapers through working with the NDBN (National Diaper Bank Network) and larger diaper manufacturers; as well as companies such as Green Mountain Diapers, Vicki’s Diapers, and Boise Cloth Company who have provided cloth diapers as well as sanitation services.
“To reliably and consistently provide diapers to the increasing IDB partner recipient agency roster, we have had a huge increase in the number of volunteers and volunteer hours needed to accomplish our tasks. Each month, we have what we call “Pick-n-Pack volunteers” who help us get nearly 40,000 diapers organized and ready to be picked up or shipped to our partner recipient agencies. We are truly grateful for all the help our numerous volunteers and our IDB Board Members have contributed to this effort.”
In addition to ‘Pick n Pack’ there are other ways to contribute to IDB including holding diaper drives, hosting No Gala’s Gala, the cloth diaper sewing program, and helping with activities related to September’s National Diaper Need Awareness Week.
Walz shared, “When I founded the organization, I thought it was primarily about providing diapers. Today, I realize that we are actually providing families with a glimpse of hope, with dignity, and with an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. While diapers may seem like a small thing, research has shown the tremendous impact that they can make in strengthening families.”
For more information on the Idaho Diaper Bank, events, donating, or lists of local distribution partners, check out their website www.idahodiaperbank.org or check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/idahodiaperbank.