A Real Need
A 2010 study shows that 1 in 3 American families are choosing between purchasing diapers and essentials like food, utilities, or childcare. This can lead families to make difficult choices, such as leaving babies in wet diapers far longer than recommended for their health and comfort. Some families even clean soiled disposable diapers and reuse them because they can not afford replacements.
Donating disposable diapers to help families in need is an important and worthy effort. One package of disposable diapers can help a family through a couple of weeks to a month, depending on the age of their child. Imagine, however, if your donation could help a family diaper their child through potty training and then that same donation could go on to help another family?
A Helping Hand
Share the Love is a national initiative to help local communities distribute cloth diapers to low-income families who need help caring for their child through a difficult time. St. Louis-based Cotton Babies manages a database to route applications and supports local volunteers across 36 states and 100 locations, including Iowa City.
Cotton Babies owner, and founder of Bum Genius, explains why she wanted to create this giving project. “It feels like yesterday that my family was in this situation,” Labit said.” Ten years ago, I had a $30 weekly grocery budget and a WIC check. My family had to choose between diapers and food. If it wasn’t for a friend who generously sent my family cloth diapers as a gift, I don’t know what we would have done. Her gift helped my family and changed our lives, and I hope Share the Love will do the same for others.”
I discovered cloth diapers five years ago. My friend had cloth diapers drying neatly on a clothesline in her backyard, and I was intrigued. My oldest was not yet potty trained, so I had two children in diapers. Changing disposables for two felt like I was filling up my own personal land-fill, and put a serious dent in our monthly budget. I decided to explore cloth diapers, and they became a budget and eco-conscious solution that worked for my family.
As I look back over the past five years of using cloth diapers on my children, the benefits to our family are tangible. We see money redirected toward groceries, medical bills, and utilities. Reusable cloth diapers can save a family $60 per month. Putting that money back into a family’s budget can help them pay a utility bill, save money, and purchase fruits and vegetables or meat for a higher quality meal.
I don’t expect cloth diapers to be the solution for every family, but I know they can help families in our community who are struggling right now. Cloth diapers have helped my family and I want to help them do the same for my neighbors in the Iowa City area.
How it Works
Cotton Babies provides support to local communities through volunteer recruitment, training, and a centralized database to refer applicants, donors, and volunteers to their local chapters. Program fliers, recipient information cards, and bags for distribution are also provided by Cotton Babies. The program is then locally sustained by volunteers and through local donations of new and used cloth diapers and supplies.
Volunteers inspect and clean all diapers so they are ready for families to use. Selling, purchasing, and donating used diapers is a very common, safe practice. The great benefit of cloth diapers is that one well cared for diaper can be used for many years for multiple babies.
A family applies privately through the Cotton Babies website, and that application is then forwarded to local volunteers. If an applicant meets requirements and diapers are available, the volunteer will prepare a diaper kit to lend to the applicant. Volunteers work with families, teaching them how to properly use and care for their cloth diapers and answering any questions they may have. When a child is potty-trained, the family returns the diapers to Share the Love, where they are then prepared to help another family in the community.
You Can Share the Love
You don’t have to be passionate about cloth diapers or use them on your children to be a part of Share the Love. This is a community effort and we need volunteers. We also need donations of new and used diapers so we can meet the needs of applications. Share the Love is meant to supplement a family’s cloth diaper needs, so every donation helps!
Volunteers are needed to help collect, wash, and store diapers. Ideally, a local community center, club, or church would provide storage space and we have yet to locate this space in Iowa City. Volunteers are also needed to help organize diaper drives, spread the word to community organizations and families in need, and distribute diapers. If your talents could help with any of these vital volunteer positions, you can help share the love!
Share the Love happily accepts donations of new and used cloth diapers and diapering accessories, including but not limited to:
* All in Ones/All in Twos
* Diaper Covers
* Fitted, Flats, Contours, and Pre-folds
* Diaper Fasteners, such as Snappis or Boingos
* Cloth Wipes
* Cloth Diaper Safe Detergent
*Supplies for making and repairing diapers (PUL, microfiber, cotton cloth, fleece, wool, elastic, snaps, aplix, thread, etc)
* Receiving blankets, baby washcloths, or any other soft material that could be turned into wipes
* Donations of gift certificates for laundry mats can also assist families in need.
If you would like to make a purchase of new diapers to assist the program, our volunteers will gladly help direct you to an online store or you can find diapers at many local consignment stores, as well as the Birth, Baby, and Beyond store in Cedar Rapids.
Sewing groups can access a variety of free cloth diaper sewing patterns online and can make very inexpensive, but effective, flat diaper inserts out of t-shirts. Fabric store discounts can be pooled to purchase supplies or sewing groups can organize supply drives to make diapers. Sewing groups can also learn how to repair diapers that simply need a few repairs to elastic, snaps, or aplix to be functional again.