By ANITA FRITZ, GREENFIELD — More than 10,000 diapers were collected during the diaper drive run by the Franklin County Diaper Task Force, United Way of Franklin County and Community Action Pioneer Valley, and more are coming in.
Deb Billings, a member of the task force and this year’s diaper drive organizer, said about 8,000 were collected on the Greenfield Common during United Way’s Day of Action on June 22. She said the rest came from collection boxes that were set up throughout Greenfield, including at the YMCA and several local businesses.
After a one-year hiatus due to the former organizer moving away and not enough volunteers, the three groups reunited to revive the annual drive that began June 10.
Billings said there is a “great need” for diapers throughout Franklin County. She said she is leading the way to rebuild the diaper drive to make sure every Franklin County baby has a clean, dry bottom. The diaper drive started in 2013 and by 2016, had given out more than 26,000 diapers, and she said she’d like to see that number consistently increase each year. “We want to bring this back as much as possible,” Billings said.
She said the group is working on holding another diaper drive at Greenfield Community College this fall, and will hold a benefit Soup and Games Night at Hope & Olive on Nov. 4.
“People are still asking where they can drop off diapers or monetary donations,” Billings said. “Our collection sites closed at the end of June, but people can still drop diapers off at the Family Center (90 Federal St.) or the United Way (51 Davis St., Unit 2). They’ve been so generous.”
She said the drive always needs more volunteers, as well, noting that more than 50 people volunteered to be at collection sites across Franklin County throughout last month.
United Way Executive Director Kelly Brigham-Steiner said she is happy the drive was revived because there are so many children in need. She said just between August and December of last year, 3,600 diapers were donated and organizations ran out before the end of the year.
“Each package of diapers is the difference between a child being exposed to rashes, infections or other health issues, and them having a positive start in life that increases the likelihood for improved well-being in the future,” Brigham-Steiner said. “We all suffer when a child suffers. A donation is a small way to say you care, and has a big impact now and in the future.”
According to the groups, one in three families in the county struggle to afford diapers, which cost on average $70 to $80 a month for a baby. People cannot use food stamps to buy them, and Billings said no government programs help with the purchase of diapers, leaving many families struggling and making difficult choices. Not having diapers means children are at risk for health problems, increased stress and in some cases, unable to attend day care facilities, and that can contribute to the cycle of poverty.
“As the father of two young children, I understand how difficult it can be,” Center for Self-Reliance Director Justin Costa said. “It’s an unmet need here. It’s something the task force was able to provide with its diaper drives until last year. I’m just grateful it was brought back.”
The diapers are being distributed through the Family Center and other agencies that serve children in need. Monetary donations are accepted, as well, to purchase diapers.
For more information, contact Deb Billings at 413-659-6019 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit the Franklin County Diaper Task Force’s Facebook page.
Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or email@example.com.