Dane Co. Salvation Army increasing diaper supply for clients, help still needed

New partnership with Village Diaper Bank supports homeless, or recently homeless, families through winter
Published: Feb. 21, 2021 at 9:30 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In these uncertain economic times during the coronavirus pandemic, families are struggling to make ends meet. In some cases, it means families are choosing between food, shelter or a diaper for their child.

That’s why NBC15 is partnering with the Village Diaper Bank to host a Community Diaper Drive February 18-25, 2021.

One organization the diaper bank supports takes diapers directly to currently or recently homeless families. The pandemic promoted the relationship between the Diaper Bank and the Salvation Army of Dane County.

“Back in March, when the pandemic really started to impact our community, the Salvation Army drastically saw and increase in the families we were needing to serve in our family shelter,” says Casey Yanta, the Salvation Army of Dane County’s Housing Services Director.

Over the past year, the number of families the Salvation Army of Dane County provides shelter to, has jumped from around 22 a night to 60. Many of those families have children in diapers.

“For a family having to choose between shelter, food and diapers, that’s such a hard decision. Especially when you don’t have a lot of income. So supplies, namely diapers for those young kiddos, were going so fast,” says Yanta.

By October, the need for diapers significantly outgrew what Salvation Army could alone provide. Yanta and her team reached out to the Village Diaper Bank to see if they could help.

“The Salvation Army is what I would call the hero, we are the sidekick,” says Megan Sollenberger, The Village Diaper Bank’s Founder & CEO.

Megan and her team jumped at the chance to support the Salvation Army, knowing the clientele they serve are either currently or recently homeless.

“They are really serving the families in our community that are most in need and we are just here to kind of prop up those services and to help them reallocate areas of their budget they used to use for things like diapers, that now they can use to focus on doing what they do best. Which is finding people stable and permanent housing,” says Sollenberger.

The Village Diaper Bank started coordinating directly with Salvation Army case workers. Together they’ve created a shared list of clients that have children and what size and quantity of diapers each family needs.

“Each month we arrive at the Village Diaper Bank with our Salvation Army Cargo Van and Megan helps us load all of the diapers that she is providing for the families that we’re serving into the cargo van and the cargo van is full,” says Yanta.

One load provides diapers to 120 children for at least half a month. Families are provided a new batch of diapers monthly.

An infant can go through 8 to 12 diapers a day. For toddlers, it can be as many as eight. That means as many as 1,440 diapers are needed by the Salvation Army for a two-week period.

“So if you think about 120 slots for 120 kids that need diapers just at the Salvation Army alone, I mean you can imagine the greater need in our community for kids who need diapers,” says Yanta.

This partnership has been instrumental in getting some of Dane County’s most vulnerable families through the winter and has opened up a dialogue about the true need for diapers in the community.

“I think especially with diapers and diaper insecurity, it’s a really hard thing to talk about, because I think there’s a lot of stigma associated with maybe not being able to provide for your child,” says Yanta.

“Something as simple as a diaper can really change a baby’s life for the better, a parent’s life for the better. It might mean the difference between CPS involvement or not. It might be the difference between an overwhelmed parent making a bad choice or not,” says Sollenberger.

The partnership has grown since October. Not only does The Salvation Army provide diapers to the families in its shelter, it now includes more than 100 families in the Army’s housing programs.

“We have no plans of stopping that growth anytime soon,” says Sollenberger.

“It is just overwhelming the amount of support that Megan and her team have been able to provide the families that we’re working with,” says Yanta.

During NBC15′s diaper drive, just $1 can provide up to seven diapers. You can donate diapers in-person or make a monetary gift online.

Generous sponsors are matching up to $20,000 for anyone who donates on Thursday, February 25. On that same day, NBC15 is hosting a diaper donation drive-thru event at the Village Diaper Bank located at 21 Marsh Court in Madison. The drive-thru donation event runs from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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