Military families in Cumberland County who are struggling to buy diapers for their babies and young children are about to get some help thanks to a donation to the Diaper Bank of North Carolina.
The National Diaper Bank Network announced this week that the Durham-based group is one of 24 organizations across the country to receive funding. The grants are given to programs that serve families, who can't afford to purchase diapers.
The North Carolina group was one of four groups to win a $10,000 grant. The money will help pay for the creation of a mobile diaper bank, which will travel to Cumberland County monthly to distribute diapers to military families at Fort Bragg and others in the area.
Since launching the diaper bank, Michelle Old, the North Carolina diaper bank's executive director, said she's regularly gotten calls from military families seeking help.
Diapers cost about $70 to $80 a month, per child, according to the National Diaper Bank Network. About 30 percent of families struggle to keep their young children in clean diapers. WIC, food stamps and other government programs do not cover the cost.
"We get a lot of calls from military families where one spouse is deployed and the other one is at home on WIC and food stamps and can’t afford diapers," Old said. "We’ve been trying to figure out a way to reach out to these military families as well as others in the area who could use help with diapers and feminine hygiene products."
A recent survey of military families in eastern North Carolina found that 40 percent had received help getting diapers in the past year and 63 percent said that having enough diapers was a significant concern. According to the study, conducted by a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, junior ranking and young parents were most likely concerned about not having enough diapers.
Old said a local business has donated a moving truck to the group. The money will allow them to pay for a staff member, the title transfer for the truck and for signage on the truck.
Old plans to line up businesses, churches and other groups to sponsor the truck each month. They'd provide money for the gas and insurance and volunteers to help with distribution.
Right now, the diaper bank works with agencies and doesn't directly distribute diapers to individual families.
"We’re hoping that companies and churches will help us make this possible to serve these families," Old said.
The truck could be on the road as soon as this May.
The diaper bank's branch in the Triad also received a $2,500 grant. The money will help the bank's staff travel to Washington, D.C., in May, for the National Diaper Bank Network's Advocacy Day.
The group will meet with legislators and ask for support of the Hygiene Assistance for Families of Infants and Toddlers Act of 2017, which would create a grant for states to develop demonstration programs for distributing diapers to low-income families.
The diaper bank currently distributes 211,000 diapers a month in the Triangle; 60,000 a month in the Triad; and about 5,000 a month in the Lower Cape Fear area.
The diaper bank's website has more information about how you can volunteer and donate diapers. If your company, church or group would like to get involved in the mobile diaper bank, contact Old at firstname.lastname@example.org.