The Louisville Metro Council Women’s Caucus is hosting a diaper drive throughout the month of March as one of its Women’s History Month initiatives.
The drive will benefit St. Bernadette Diaper Bank, a ministry of St. Bernadette Catholic Church near Norton Commons. It’s hosted in partnership with the city’s Office for Women.
Deanna Hornback started the effort with a few boxes of diapers stored at her house. She quickly outgrew that setup.
Now, Hornback uses a Sam Kinnaird’s Flooring warehouse to store donations. Last year, St. Bernadette supplied more than 100,000 diapers. That was about half of the requests the bank received.
Hornback provides diapers to 13 local organizations including Golden Arrow and La Casita. Each organization distributes them in the communities they serve.
“Our mission for the St. Bernadette Diaper Bank is to keep babies clean, dry and healthy, of course,” Hornback said. “But our purpose is to give the agencies the opportunity to order the diapers that they need.”
Because each organization they work with serves a unique community, St. Bernadette can reach more people who need diapers when they combine services.
Gretchen Hunt, executive administrator with the Office for Women, said that while everyone is affected by the issues that stem from “diaper need,” women and other marginalized people carry the heaviest burden.
“Without adequate diapers, kids cannot go to daycare, Mom cannot go to work or college,” Hunt said.
“Diaper need costs our community. It results in higher rates of postpartum depression, higher rates of ER visits for diaper rash, higher rates of referrals for child neglect, lowered attachment between mother and child.”
Diapers are expensive. According to the Office for Women, diapers for one child cost $80 per month, on average. The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to financial strain leading to even higher rates of need.
“There’s a Connecticut study that found every dollar invested in diapers, there was an increase in family income of $11,” Hunt said.
Hunt said there are efforts at the federal level to help offset diaper costs by creating a fund specifically for families on social service to pay for diapers. But that process is slow-moving while the need continues.
This month’s diaper drive hopes to be a stopgap.
“We will have a big diaper bin in City Hall, people can drop off diapers anytime during office hours,” District 8 Council member and Women’s Caucus co-chair Cassie Chambers Armstrong, a Democrat, said. “If people want to reach out to my office, I will even come and pick them up on your porch or wherever those diapers might be.”
Hornback said the diaper bank is particularly in need of diapers sizes newborn, five and six. People can also make monetary donations to the St. Bernadette Diaper Bank.