Photo Gallery | The Berkshire Community Diaper Project expands
GREAT BARRINGTON — Of all the things a family has to provide for their babies, diapers are something that don't seem to be a major expense.
But they are. A potentially big expense.
"A family could spend up to $100 a month for diapers," reported Daltrey Turner, a member of the Board of Directors of the Berkshire Community Diaper Project.
Another board member, Marcy Gaul of Lee, upped that estimate to $150, "depending on the age of the child."
That's a hefty sum. Which is why the Diaper Project, which provides free diapers to local families, has flourished since it's inception in 2014 in Pittsfield and Southern Berkshire County.
And why the not-for-profit group is now expanding into Northern Berkshire County.
Turner estimates that over the course of the 21 months the organization has been in existence, it has given away more than 110,000 diapers.
"We don't keep a count on exactly how many people we help," said Turner. "We're more concerned with how many diapers we give away."
The diapers are free, pointed out another board member, Karla Delair. There is a survey the applicants fill out, but other than that, there no specific guidelines, she said.
The organization began in Sept. of 2014. The expense of purchasing diapers on a regular basis is a daunting one in large part because the cost of diapers is not covered by the Women, Infants and Children program. Nor, said Delair, are diaper purchases covered by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
"They're both federal programs that are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture," said Turner. "And diapers are outside [the jurisdiction of] those programs."
The U.S. Department of Health estimates that the average cost of diapers per year can be as much as $2,000.
With no financial assistance to purchase diapers, said Turner, diapers drop down the list of necessities for mothers of low and moderate income.
The synergism there is that children in wet diapers are unhappy children, said Gaul. Wet diapers are also a health issue that contribute to urinary tract infections and rashes.
Unhappy and unhealthy children, she said, also contribute to family issues.
"People want to be successful parents," she said. "People want to be good parents."
The stress of having an unhappy baby causes stress for parents, she said.
The organization raises money by inducing local businesses to have diaper drives, said Delair. The drives raise money for the purchases of diapers.
At times, said Gaul, people also want to donate diapers, which the group also accepts.
Presently there are diaper distribution centers in Great Barrington, Lee and Pittsfield. The distribution center in Northern Berkshire will be at the Friendship Center Food Pantry on Eagle Street in North Adams, said Turner. The facility is already offering diapers, she said.
The group is also trying to encourage more businesses to have diaper drives, said Delair.
"We're always looking for businesses and organizations to host diaper drives," she said.
To get more information, including how to start a diaper drive or find out where to pick up diapers, go to www.berkshirecommunitydiaperproject.com, or go to the organization's Facebook page or call Gaul at 413-243-2679 or Delair at 413-243-6072.
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-243-6251.