When people asking Megan Fischer a question start with, “Did you ever think you would end up …” she knows what’s coming before they even finish their sentence. It’s usually something, well, cheeky about spending so much time focusing on clean, healthy bottoms.
Providing millions of diapers and basic personal hygiene items to those in need was not remotely on her mind before a random Facebook ad caught Megan’s attention one fall day in 2014.
She was using cloth diapers for her son at the time, and thought by clicking the link she might find a few tips. But the link wasn’t what she expected—and what she read flipped a life-altering switch.
Megan didn’t know what a diaper bank was, but she got a quick and jarring education on diaper need, period poverty and seniors lacking incontinence supplies. She didn’t realize those cards she’d seen people using at the grocery store were only meant to be a food supplement program—they don’t cover diapering, feminine hygiene or incontinence products … leaving already stressed parents and caregivers without the most expensive items on their lists. That’s where diaper banks enter the picture, distributing those much-needed supplies to people in stressful situations who don’t have access to them otherwise.
Domestic violence, homelessness, sudden relationship breakdowns, teen pregnancy, lack of education, mental illness—these are just a few examples contributing to diaper need. Caregivers in crisis can become desperate, keeping their babies in the same diaper for days only because they don’t know what else to do. They use things on their children that weren’t meant to be a diaper, or put used diapers back on. The emotional consequences for babies and toddlers in such situations are dire.
Learning all this, Megan could not imagine, accept or ignore it. “Once you know something like this, you need to do better … you need to do something about it, you need to help people.” With a toddler son and a daughter on the way, she thought about volunteering. “I was hoping someone else would start something and I could help. After a year, it became clear—that someone was supposed to be me.” With zero knowledge of nonprofits, social services, human services or any idea how to make it happen, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. Sweet Cheeks was born in April 2016, becoming Cincinnati’s only nonprofit diaper bank.
The goal for that first year was to distribute 60,000 diapers, but at years’ end,153,000 had been delivered—the need in our area alone is overwhelming. Last year, Sweet Cheeks distributed an astounding 2.2 million diapers, and only 25% of the area’s need is currently being met. In 2018, period supplies began to be provided as well. Women who used to have to decide whether to buy diapers or period supplies are now getting help with both.
Megan emphasizes that Sweet Cheeks isn’t set up to give diapers directly to families. Packaging and distributing that volume of diapers is a huge job, accomplished each month thanks to 400 volunteer hours. From there, items go to 52 partner agencies. Those agencies get a monthly supply from Sweet Cheeks, and during appointments, families get their supplies. Anyone can click the blue “I Need Diapers” button at the Sweet Cheeks site (SweetCheeksDiaperBank.org) to connect with a partner agency and get supplies.
But often, it’s more than that. Megan shares the story of one mom who initially went to a partner agency for diapers on the advice of trusted friend—which opened the door to other services the agency offered. She built relationships there, and that led to them helping her and her children get out of a domestic violence situation. “She went for diapers, but got so much more—that’s what happens at all of our partner agencies.”
“People go to get something simple and tangible,” she continues. “But they’re getting resources that the partner agencies provide … and transformation is happening.”
What started as an operation with only Megan has grown to a staff of four—but this small team’s impact to area residents has been tremendous. She’ll never meet most of them, but thousands of people get to feel clean, dry and human thanks to Megan … and she’d like to do more. Potty training kits with Pull-Ups and adult incontinence supplies for seniors will go out as soon as she finds funding.
And that’s where you come in. This holiday, consider checking a few items off of Megan’s Christmas wishlist.
The Most Pressing Needs
Sweet Cheeks can use cash donations to buy 2 – 3 times more than someone who goes to the store to buy retail. Special buying channels enable them to stretch monetary donations, so while diaper donations are enthusiastically accepted, dollars = more diapers.
Megan needs corporate sponsors to help her carry out her plans for assisting the community. Sweet Cheeks has a waitlist of 30+ agencies representing thousands of kids they can't serve because they don't have the funding to meet that need.
Event Sponsorships and Participation
Watch for a golf outing in September, and please attend! Sweet Cheeks will start looking for businesses to get involved in April, but you can go to the website to learn more about Sweet Cheeks events at any time.