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Columbus Diaper Bank

Nonprofit aims to close area's 'diaper gap'

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Two central Ohio women, one of whom has never changed a diaper in her life and the other with a 7-month-old positively burning through the things, were each moved by separate media reports about how hard it is for low-income mothers to pay for diapers.

The United States, it turns out, has a "diaper gap," and that's not a laughing matter.

"Babies born into poor or low-income families can spend a day or longer in one diaper, leading to potential health risks," according to the National Diaper Bank Network's website.

Rachael Moore heard a National Public Radio story about a diaper bank in Washington, D.C., as she was driving home to the Short North from work.

"There's just this need for diapers," she said she suddenly realized.

Judith L. Marsh, a partner in the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, read a magazine article in July 2013 about a study on what stresses new mothers the most.

"It was shocking to me to see that diapers were so difficult for low-income mothers to afford," Marsh said. "It never occurred to me that our social service safety net couldn't help out with diapers."

According to the National Diaper Bank Network, 5.9 million children age 3 and younger in the United States live with poor or low-income families. Disposable diapers can cost up to $150 a month for each of them.

According to the NDBN:

* Without transportation, buying diapers at a convenience store rather than a large discount store can double or triple the monthly cost.

* For sanitary reasons, coin-operated Laundromats often don't allow customers to wash cloth diapers.

* Infants require up to 12 diapers a day, toddlers about eight.

* Candy may be purchased with food stamps, but diapers are classified with cigarettes, alcohol and pet food as disallowed purchases.

In addition, according to the network, most childcare centers, even free and subsidized facilities, will turn away a child who arrives without a day's supply of disposable diapers.

And most childcare centers will not accept cloth diapers.

Marsh, a Powell resident whose daughter was 7 months old at the time she read the new mothers study, was deeply troubled by the thought of an infant crying because of a wet diaper and a mother unable to do anything for lack of money.

That's simply heartbreaking, in her view.

"You don't have to be a mother to understand that," Marsh said.

Marsh discussed the problem with a colleague at the law firm.

Moore, after the loss of grant funding closed down the after-school program where she once worked, began doing research on the "diaper gap."

Eventually, both women reached out to the diaper bank in Washington, D.C. Officials there put Marsh and Moore together, and now they've put together plans to create the Columbus Diaper Bank.

An official launch party for the new nonprofit organization is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at Woodland's Backyard, 668 Grandview Ave.

Donations of money and disposable diapers will be accepted.

Moore will be the new organization's executive director.

"I'm not a mother, so everyone, when I bring this up, they're very surprised that I would want to try this," Moore said. "I've never had to diaper a child.

"I just liked the idea, so I started emailing people across the country. Everyone was so nice."

The Columbus Diaper Bank has a board composed of local entrepreneurs Mike Sorboro and Bryce Ungerott of Mikey's Late Night Slice, and Hollie Foust, an attorney for a medical products distribution company.

"The biggest problem I have right now is where I'm going to get the diapers," said Moore, "We're starting small, but our goal is to do 500,000 (diapers) by March of next year."

The March 6 launch party is intended to raise awareness of the diaper bank, she added. In addition, Upper Arlington Lutheran Church is helping out by holding a diaper drive March 9-23.

"I'm very confident that this is going to be a sustainable nonprofit," Moore said.

"We're really excited about this endeavor, and we hope it's a huge success," Marsh said.

For more information, contact Sorboro at 614-206-7448, Moore at 419-571-8417 or via email to rachael@columbusdiaperbank.org. The website is columbusdiaperbank.org.

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