In 2014, I saw a news report about a diaper bank that had been robbed in North Carolina. Wait, what? A diaper bank? Why did I not know this was a thing?
Later, I causally mentioned to my husband that I would like to start a diaper pantry in our community. He loved the idea and the rest is history.
Are you interested in doing the same? Check out some of my top tips below and feel free to ask any follow up questions in the comments below!
Check out the National Diaper Bank Network and find out if there are already diaper banks operating in your area. If so, volunteer, donate, or communicate with the organization to find out what else they may need. The website is also chock-FULL of stats and info related to diaper need.
Find a Location
You’ve done your research and your eyes have been opened to the diaper need in this country. Although diaper awareness is growing, there are still many gaps around the U.S. with diaper giveaway locations. It’s time to start asking questions.
Where are the families in your area that could benefit from receiving diapers? Start talking to your local organizations that may already be supporting families in various ways. Maybe you personally know parents struggling to purchase diapers. I received 100 emails from moms, dads, and grandparents asking for diapers the first month we opened the diaper bank in Kentucky. When you start talking about this, it won’t take long to find the need.
Where will you distribute diapers? We have done this twice now and both times we were able to do it out of church buildings. Many local churches and other service organizations are looking for new ways to help their communities, ask around if one of them might give you some space to get started. Where else might you be able to do to make this happen? Will your families easily have access to that location by foot or bus? Could you team up with another organization, say a group that provides food or medical services?
Build Up Supply
It’s now to time to GET diapers (and likely wipes and rash cream too). The first go around we spoke to several churches and charitable organizations (think scouting groups, community give-back programs at local companies, and service clubs like Kiwanis) in the area and asked for donations on a monthly basis. We asked each group if they could do a drive for us only once or if they could commit to doing so annually.
The second time we were able to team up with Hope Supply Company who serve as our primary supplier of diapers and feminine hygiene products. Each month they deliver our most needed sizes and supplies right to our door.
Now, you can’t do this alone. You will need volunteers to greet families, provide hospitality, fill orders, and keep the bank stocked/organized. You can likely find volunteers through the same outlets where you find supplies, but also post on sites like Nextdoor, or just start with friends and family. You might even contact the nearest school to see if staff members, who are already invested in your community, might come help and invite students and parents to join in.
It’s time to open! How are you going to let families know about it? Make simple fliers with the who, what, where, and when. Pass them out to local free clinics, WIC offices, schools (some schools have designated staff people who always looking for just this sort of opportunity), faith communities, day care centers, and other places where families with kids are likely to go.
Treat your families like VIP’s because they are. For example, at Diapers Etc. we provide free childcare for weary parents, offer snacks with coffee and juice, and encourage volunteers to show genuine concern for our guests largely just through listening to their stories. Depending on your context, it might also be helpful to find translators to smooth out the communication with guests who speak other languages than you. The goal here is not just to get diapers on kids, though that is important in itself, but to offer kindness and space for friendships and community to grow.
Bonus Tip: Ask What’s Next
Once you have done all that and your diaper bank is running smoothly, start asking what other items folks in your area might need. For instance, at Diapers Etc., we also provide feminine hygiene products, adult incontinence supplies, and an ever-expanding inventory of important goods like cleaning supplies and laundry detergent.
Have any thoughts or ideas you would like to share? Any questions you would like to ask? Please do so in the comments section below.