Anna Joyner is hoping to collect 5,000 diapers by next week, and she got at least halfway to her goal on Thursday.
The Greensburg resident is the outreach coordinator in Westmoreland and Fayette counties for the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank, an organization started eight years ago to help get diapers to families in need.
She joined other representatives of the nonprofit in accepting more than 3,500 items at a donation event Thursday outside the county courthouse. Much of that came from a month-long drive at Express Employment Professionals in Harrison City, which netted about 2,200 diapers and 1,300 baby wipes.
Along with a proclamation recognizing National Diaper Need Awareness Week, beginning Monday, the county commissioners added several packs of diapers to the total as well as $200 collected through a Casual Day promotion among county staff.
Each donation is important because the need for diapers has soared, as the covid-19 pandemic has created hard times for many more families in the region.
Working with local partner organization Westmoreland Community Action, the bank distributed 30,000 diapers in the county last year. About 50,000 have been given out so far this year, according to Cathy Battle, the diaper bank’s executive director.
“Diapers are on the front line of the pandemic,” she said. “There’s no government assistance for diapers. It’s a basic need, and diapers are so expensive.”
Families can spend between $80 and $100 per month to keep a child in diapers, said Battle, of Monroeville.
“Before the pandemic, one in three families were struggling to diaper their babies, but now it’s increased,” she said. “With families out of work, they have to decide whether they’re going to buy diapers or they’re going to buy food, or pay their rent or their utility bill.”
Battle estimates about 20,000 disposable diapers are used each day in Westmoreland County, about 74,000 in Allegheny County, where the nonprofit is based.
Those in need of diapers can check in with one of the partner organizations listed on the diaper bank’s website, at wpadiaperbank.org.
Westmoreland Community Action is the sole partner agency in Westmoreland County, but Joyner also organizes pop-up diaper distributions in communities in the county. More than 700 families have been served at 15 pop-up events since May.
Restrictions on public gatherings and the need for social distancing during the pandemic have limited the bank’s diaper drives this year and caused cancellation of major spring and fall fundraising events. Still, Battle said, the public has responded and overall donations are up.
Monetary donations can be made through the nonprofit’s website. It also has sought emergency donations through the GoFundMe website.
Items for the diaper bank also can be donated at Mommy Gear in Ligonier.
Donated items also may be brought to the county’s Twin Lakes Park from 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 24, where volunteers will wrap them for distribution to families.
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