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Helping Little Behinds Get a Little Ahead

The Heart of Ohio Diaper Bank Keeps Baby Bottoms Dry One Diaper at a Time

Article by Jacquie Mazziotta

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Canton Lifestyle

One out of five children under the age of 5 lives in poverty in Stark County. This leaves them without basic supplies and care, including diapers. Without an adequate supply of them, babies are at risk for infections, rashes and serious health problems. Diapers also are a requirement to attend child care or participate in early education opportunities. Heart of Ohio Diaper Bank recognizes this extraordinary need and strives to ensure every baby has enough diapers to remain clean, dry and healthy. They’re making a difference for thousands of families in need throughout Northeast Ohio – one diaper at a time.

“When babies are uncomfortable, they cry more which often leads to tension in the home and less nurturing. Diapers are not a luxury. They are vital to the well-being of the child, as well as the greater impact on the entire family,” says Shannon English Hexamer, founder of Heart of Ohio Diaper Bank. “With the support of our community, we strive to keep every baby in the counties we serve clean, dry, happy, healthy and safe from rashes and urinary infections.”

Here, Shannon offers a closer look at Heart of Ohio Diaper Bank and how you can get involved in this extraordinary cause.

Q: How many diapers does the Heart of Ohio Diaper Bank provide to families in need?

A: More than 900,000 diapers and wipes have been distributed throughout Stark, Carroll, Medina, Harrison, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties. 

Q: When and how was the Heart of Ohio Diaper Bank founded?

A: Originally founded as the Stark County Diaper Bank in a private residence, the Diaper Bank had five distribution partners in Stark County. Today, the nonprofit organization has grown to include 25 community distribution partners across six counties and serves nearly 800 babies every month. The Diaper Bank is a member of the National Diaper Bank Network and is active with the Ohio Coalition of Diaper Banks.

Q: How has the Heart of Ohio Diaper Bank grown?

A: In 2019, the Diaper Bank distributed 57,230 needed supplies. This year, more than 205,000 diapers and supplies have already been distributed.

Q: Does the Diaper Bank serve the needs of babies only?

A: In addition to providing diapers for babies, the Diaper Bank also provides menstruation and adult incontinence supplies to those in need. Providing access to these essentials supports independence, dignity and health for adults. One in four U.S. women struggle to afford menstruation supplies each year, yet only 4% of women are aware of a local resource where they can access them for free or at a reduced cost. Adult incontinence affects more people every day than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. Yet, Medicare does not cover these supplies, which on average cost about $200 a month. That means that many adults go without them.

Q: How does the Diaper Bank work with partners?

A: The Diaper Bank secures and collects diapers and supplies and distributes them through agency partners including food banks, social service agencies and faith-based organizations.

Q: How can those who want to help get involved?

A: Donations and volunteers are needed. Financial donations made to the Diaper Bank allow organizers the ability to purchase diapers at a low cost. Each $4,500 raised purchases 30,000 diapers, which provide six months of emergency diaper assistance, a three-day supply, to 100 children. Volunteers wrap and pack diapers for distribution. Anyone can join the cause – church groups, businesses, seniors, college students, high schoolers or anyone who wants to make a difference in children’s lives.

Q: Is a minimum quantity of diapers required in order to donate? 

A: All donations are accepted. Individual packs and even opened packs of clean diapers are accepted. Diaper drives are great service projects and can often collect large quantities of diapers. There is a need for every diaper.

Q: What are the Diaper Bank’s most urgent needs?

A: All diapers are needed, but sizes 4, 5, 6 and 7, pull-ups (any size) and tampons are in high demand. 

Q: Where can donations be made?

A: Diaper Drop Boxes are located at Once Upon a Child on Dressler Road NW, Akron Children’s Heath Center on Whipple Ave. NW, or Aultman Hospital at 2600 Sixth St. SW.

For more information or details about how to donate your time or money to this extraordinary cause, visit HeartofOhioDiaperBank.org.

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