One in three Green Bay families struggles to afford diapers. Next week, you can help change that.
GREEN BAY - Communities across northeast Wisconsin will pitch in this week to address a stubborn problem that affects one in three U.S. families: the cost of clean diapers.
United Way branches in the Fox Cities, Brown County and Oshkosh will celebrate National Diaper Need Awareness Week Sept. 23-29 by hosting diaper drives and collecting funds to furnish local agencies with the money to buy more diapers for the families they serve.
When Dan Wadle of Brown County United Way helped kick off the diaper drive initiative in 2012, he said he was mulling the cost of putting his own children in diapers.
"I always would ask, if this is so hard for us to afford diapers, what do families who make far less money than we do end up doing for their children?" Wadle said.
The local diaper bank, located in Appleton, sends more than 50,000 diapers every other month to community partners like the Salvation Army of Outagamie County and St. Joseph Food Program, which distribute those diapers to families.
During Diaper Need Awareness Week, those interested in contributing can drop off diapers at Festivals Foods locations in Brown County and the Fox Cities, Brown County libraries, Pomp's Tire in Green Bay, and the Brown County United Way office. Monetary donations can be given online
Kimberly Clark Corp., whose brand Huggies authored a 2010 study on diaper need, has contributed 250,000 diapers to United Way locations for the 2019 drive. Brown County received 75,000 diapers.
Over the years, the corporation has come to understand the ripple effect diaper need has on families, said Kimberly Clark Community Relations Manager Laura Welsh, including that babies need clean diapers to enroll in daycare facilities that then allow parents to work.
"Of (families experiencing diaper need), 57% reported missing work or school because they didn't have enough diapers to drop their children off at childcare, daycare or early education programs," Welsh said.
Local leaders are stepping in to help, too: For the second year in a row, Brown County Executive Tony Streckenbach issued a diaper need awareness proclamation.
And in Appleton on Wednesday, Sen. Roger Roth and Reps. Jim Steineke and Dave Murphy will join Kimberly Clark and United Way Fox Cities leaders for a packing event at the diaper bank.
"(Diaper need) is a growing issue our community is understanding more and more," said Rhonda Hannemann, community development program officer for United Way Fox Cities. "I think we all want to have our youngest children safe, healthy, happy and clean."