Megan Fischer was already a mom and pregnant with her second child in 2014 when she first came face to face with diaper need in the Greater Cincinnati area.
“Diaper costs can come to $100 a month or more per child,” says Megan. “Government assistance doesn’t cover diapers, so you need cash to buy them, and many low-income families struggle to have cash for all their needs.”
Megan was stunned to discover the extent of diaper need in her area, and she set out to volunteer at a diaper bank, an organization that coordinates and streamlines donations of diapers for distribution. The problem was that the Greater Cincinnati area didn’t have one at all.
“After a year, my interest hadn’t gone away and no one had created one,” she says. ”I kept wondering if it was supposed to be me. I had a mental shift and I knew I could be a vehicle for this to happen.”
Megan founded Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, with lots of help from friends and family. The early years of the diaper bank were successful due to resourceful donors, great partners and faithful volunteers. By January of 2020, they were distributing around 139,000 diapers a month.
Rather than directly delivering diapers, Sweet Cheeks works through a variety of partner agencies. These agencies use the diapers as a way to lessen the weight of poverty on the people they serve, offering a bright spot when they visit to receive other services.
“We work with job training, financial coaching, addiction counseling, foster care, food pantries, clinics and other partners,” says Megan, “just about anyone you can think of who works to help people out of systems of poverty.”
Megan finds it gratifying that social workers and others at partner agencies get to share the joy of sharing diapers where they are needed.
“Partner agency workers have selfless jobs and are trying to make a difference. We want to give partner agencies even more tools to do their jobs well,” says Megan.
When COVID-19 hit and shutdowns forced many people out of work, however, the diaper need in the area grew exponentially.
“In October, we’re going to distribute 220,000 diapers, and we’re spending more than $10,000 a month just buying diapers to keep up with the new demand,” says Megan.
Donors stepped up and have helped to fill the needs, and volunteers added time in the warehouse when they could spare it.
“A lot of people are finding us for the first time. The pandemic is educational for so many people as we experience hardships we’ve never seen before,” says Megan.
Donors are welcome to donate new diapers to the bank, but donating money goes further in assisting with diaper need. The National Diaper Bank helps Sweet Cheeks get diapers at a reduced price with donations—2-3 times as many as what typical shoppers can buy at the store.
To get involved, you can sign up to volunteer or donate money to purchase diapers. Some local groups take it further, creating fun traditions to support Sweet Cheeks. Download resources from the Sweet Cheeks website to help plan a diaper drive with your business, organization, friends or family. Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, 1400 State Ave., Cincinnati, SweetCheeksDiaperBank.org