Fox Cities lawmakers join volunteers to promote National Diaper Need Awareness Week
APPLETON - One in three families struggle to afford clean diapers in the community, and efforts are under way to raise awareness of that need.
On Wednesday, as part of National Diaper Need Awareness Week, elected officials joined community volunteers to repack diaper donations in support of the Fox Cities Diaper Bank.
State Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton, and Reps. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, and Dave Murphy, R-Greenville, partnered with Kimberly Clark Corp. and United Way Fox Cities leaders at a Valley Packaging warehouse to recognize the work of volunteers and highlight the continuing need for diapers.
United Way branches in the Fox Cities, Brown County and Oshkosh are responding to National Diaper Need Awareness Week, from Sept. 23 to 29, by hosting diaper drives and collecting funds to furnish local agencies with the money to buy more diapers for the families they serve.
Laura Welsh, community relations consultant for Kimberly-Clark, said this year is special because of the recognition by state leaders for their efforts.
"K-C is really proud of the work that we do around diaper need and we're very proud to be part of the Fox Cities community," Welsh said. "It's a really a great way that we view as giving back."
Volunteers on Wednesday packed about 100 diapers into boxes, breaking down about a week's supply of Huggies into individual boxes for families. Overall, about 20,000 diapers were packed.
Roth said over the last year, state officials have become more aware of the impact K-C has had on philanthropic efforts in the Fox Valley and they wanted to honor the work they do.
"As a father of four young boys, I know what it's like and how expensive diapers can be," Roth said. "So, to have a company like Kimberly-Clark and United Way come together here at Valley Packaging to put these together to help out the less advantaged families, I think it's a wonderful thing and it's a gem for our community having this diaper bank."
Murphy said he was glad to have the opportunity to experience the diaper drive and raise awareness of the community issue.
"This is an extraordinary event," Murphy said. "You're helping families and I think that's what inspires me the most about being here."
Steineke commended Kimberly Clark's efforts for its charitable work and economic contributions to the community.
“They are a company that not only provides family-supporting jobs and stimulates our economy, but also generously gives back to the Fox Valley," Steineke said in a release.
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 the diapers to families.
Kimberly-Clark, whose brand Huggies authored a 2010 study on diaper need, has contributed 250,000 diapers to United Way locations for the 2019 drive.
Welsh said in 2018, the company organized 26 diaper repacks across the year. Since the inception of the Fox Cities Diaper Bank, they've donated 2 million diapers locally and since becoming a founding sponsor of the National Diaper Bank, they've given 220 million diapers on a national level.
The U.S. Senate recently passed a bipartisan resolution recognizing the importance of diaper banks across the country and the work of the National Diaper Bank Network. Huggies is a founding sponsor of the diaper network. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin was a cosponsor of the resolution.
Collin Smyser and Sarah Freiburger, two employees of Kimberly-Clark, say they are glad to work for a company taking initiative to try and alleviate community issues such as diaper need.
"Being the largest employer in this area, we feel a commitment to this area that leads to more public service," Smyser said. "I think it's wonderful."