Fifth Annual No Child’s Wet Behind Diaper Drive Gives Families A Leg Up

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The United Way of Portage County is giving struggling families a leg up once again this year with their diaper drive, No Child’s Wet Behind, which runs until June 18 this year.

The No Child’s Wet Behind drive collected $15,000 in diapers and monetary donations last year, filling a need many local agencies said was a top issue struggling families faced before the diaper drive launched in 2013.

“Seeing how giving our community is each year is amazing, but especially hearing the responses the first year from people who said, ‘I haven’t had to buy diapers in years. I’ve forgotten how many diapers you go through each day and how that can be extremely difficult for those trying to make ends meet,’” Laura Pfeil, community services manager for the United Way of Portage County said.

Because of all the contributions that the diaper drive has made since it kicked off in 2013, local area emergency partners do not see diapers as a top need facing the community. Despite this, community members are saying the need is still there.

Many Portage County licensed child care centers do not accept cloth diapers, requiring parents to provide a steady supply of disposable diapers. Many laundromats also do not allow customers to wash cloth diapers—for sanitary reasons.

Infants need up to 12 diapers each day and toddlers need up to eight diapers each day. On average, one diaper can cost 31 cents and an adequate month supply of diapers can cost $100 per month or more per child.

To help alleviate the cost of diapers, the United Way of Portage County has set up nine drop-off sites. These places include Adventure 212, BioLife Plasma, Blenker Companies Inc., Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Portage County Business Council, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Saint Peter Catholic Church, Trinity Lutheran Church and the United Way of Portage County.

Once the diapers are dropped off, the United Way distributes them to Operation Bootstrap and other emergency need agencies in Portage County.

“Diapers are really expensive. Kids can get rashes and be left with health problems,” Roseann DeBow, executive director of Operation Bootstrap said. “We’re happy people are interested in the help with infants and helping struggling families. It shows they care about the community, especially families.”

These emergency services then refer individuals and families to these agencies. Then, once the diapers are distributed, these agencies submit receipts, throughout the year to United Way of Portage County for reimbursement of the purchase of diapers.

Jason Blenker, one of the drive chairs for the United Way of Portage County this year said bringing awareness to the needs of this drive will make everyone who donates closer to reducing the problems that this community faces overall.

“It has helped me realize the need in the community and that it really doesn’t take a lot or money to make a direct impact to those that need it,” Blenker said.

The United Way of Portage County works with many volunteers who spend many hours working toward the cause. In fact, $0.85 of every dollar donated goes right to work in the programs in Portage County.

“There are very few organizations that can run at those kinds of numbers,” Blenker said. “They are great stewards of the money that they raise and it is having a real impact in the community.”

Blenker said as the drive chair, he hopes to bring people to a closer understanding of the impact that the United Way of Portage County has on its community. This is through its emphasis on education, income, health and community basics.

No Child’s Wet Behind diaper drive helps to meet these goals: ensuring that families have the needed community basics, improving the financial stability of families who can’t afford diapers, improving the health of babies with the supply of clean diapers and because those needs are met, Blenker said it helps foster education—preparing them for success in school and in life.

“We believe that children are our future and that we can do a small part by making sure that they have the necessities taken care for families that can’t afford their own,” Blenker said. “If they have one less thing to worry about, they can spend their time nurturing and teaching their children.”

Blenker said the United Way of Portage County does much more than to nurture children in their formative years—they help develop and grow them into leaders in the community.

“The United Way helps fund the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, the Boys and Girls Club, the Born Learning initiative—they do a ton of things for young children, those that can’t always help themselves or whose parents can’t give them some of the things they need to be successful,” Blenker said. “I believe that by giving people a hand up (not a hand out) that they can take time to spend with their kids teaching them to read, or helping them out where they are struggling.”

Blenker said it’s important for Blenker Companies Inc. to be involved with the cause because it believes in building leaders within the organization and within the community itself.

“There is no better way than to lead by example,” Blenker said. “It’s easy to tell someone to do something. It takes time and commitment to do it and show it can be done. I was raised to be a doer—roll up your sleeves and dive in.”

And Blenker Companies Inc. has been doing just that—they’ve been developing active community leaders in the diaper drive since it first started. They’ve been a collection site for the diapers and helped raise funds to purchase those diapers.

One of those community leaders is Jessica Anunson, a project management clerk for Blenker Companies, who hopes to bring further awareness to the cause through her actions.

“I would like to double our company donations this year,” Anunson said. “One of the ways I am hoping to accomplish that is by a holding a fundraiser event here at Blenker Companies Inc. so our employees donate to this cause.”

Anunson said the event will include a breakfast at the company’s morning break for a $5 donation, along with a breakfast if an employee brings in a package of diapers before June 7. That individual will also be entered to win a prize.

“Amherst is a small community within Portage County, I feel as a company within the Village, we need to spread awareness and show our support of United Way events and donation opportunities so other community members learn about the opportunities to donate or that these programs even exist if they need to use them,” Anunson said. “We are depending on these children to make the world a better place in the future. We need to help make their world a better place today.”