Diaper bank needs help to transition to ‘Operation Cover’

Jun. 17, 2014 @ 11:29 AM

I can hardly believe only two weeks has passed since I walked into the Diaper Bank of North Carolina (DBNC) to discover the aftermath of a theft of 13,000 diapers, a loss that emptied our shelves.

That morning I experienced a range of emotions... sadness, of course, and disappointment. But mostly, I felt frightened for not being able to help the families who depend on us for desperately needed diapers. Every diaper we distribute into the community means a few more hours of comfort for an infant or toddler, and a little more peace of mind for the parents.

Soon, however, my fear turned to amazement as local news reporters told our story. Then came gratitude, as donations of diapers and dollars began to arrive from across the country. There were trucks bearing pallets of diapers and emails speaking words of encouragement. Strangers made online donations and volunteers gifted their time.

However, for every call of support we received, dozens more arrived from individuals in need of diapers to help their families. While I’m grateful for the media’s focus on the theft and the DBNC recovery, it’s the families in need whose stories deserve to be told. They are working parents who must choose between food and diapers. Grandparents struggling to afford diapers on a fixed income. Children suffering with severe rash that could have been prevented by enough clean, dry diapers. These are voices from our community.

At last count, commitments of more than 130,000 diapers are destined for DBNC shelves. That’s great news.  However, without sustainable support, by the end of the summer, every single one of those will be gone, out our door and onto the bottoms of babies in our community. And so our work goes on: asking for support, collecting diapers and, distributing them to families in need through our network of dedicated partner agencies.

We are grateful to individuals and companies who have responded to the immediate crisis and hopeful their support continues. The daily diaper crisis will not end. It’s important to remember that one in three families experiences diaper need.   In recognition of the fact, DBNC is transitioning from Operation Re-Cover to Operation Cover, an ongoing campaign to meet diaper need in our community.

Operation Cover invites supporters to help in several ways:

-- Become a DBNC sustainer by pledging a recurring monthly financial contribution that will enable us to buy diapers.

-- Host seasonal diaper drives for DBNC.

-- Volunteer time and talent to DBNC for something as simple as repackaging diapers to joining the board of directors.

Details are at our website, www.ncdiaperbank.org. With Operation Cover we will turn a last hope into a lasting hope.

If you live outside our area, I encourage you to find ways to help families and babies experiencing diaper need in your community. Trust me when I tell you diaper need is pervasive.  A good place to learn more is by visiting National Diaper Bank Network at www.nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org.

 In the past week, I have learned much about myself, the Diaper Bank of North Carolina and the generous, caring community in which we all live, work and play. I’ve learned that together we are strong. But, most of all, I’ve learned to #DiaperOn with a little help from my friends.

Michelle Old is executive director of the Diaper Bank of North Carolina.