Mother holds baby next to a pile of diapers

Giving Babies a Fresh Start: CNY Diaper Bank

Giving Voice Spring 2020: Grantee Story

Symantha Rogers learned about the CNY Diaper Bank by chance. She was walking by the Samaritan Center and someone invited her for a meal. It was there that Rogers, then pregnant, learned about the diaper bank’s monthly distribution. Her first pickup was on February 22, 2019 – the day she gave birth to her son Jameer. Now the errand is on the family’s monthly to-do list.

“Diapers are expensive,” said Rogers, who lives on Syracuse’s Northside with Jameer and his father. “It helps a lot.”

Rogers gets 50 diapers monthly at the Samaritan Center distribution site. That’s roughly half a month’s supply, which typically costs $100. That kind of support is what Michela Hugo envisioned when she started the diaper bank in 2016, by storing diapers in her closet.

“When you have a baby, you want to meet their every need,” said Hugo, a mother of three. “There are so many families who can’t do that. Every baby deserves a good start.”

The diaper bank collects, stores and distributes free diapers through a network of partner agencies. Due to the fact that SNAP and WIC benefits do not cover diapers, the organization also works to educate the community that not all families have access to this basic necessity.

Babies with dirty diapers cry more, sleep poorly and are vulnerable to rashes and skin infections. Diaper shortages also create stress for parents and are associated with maternal depression. Children may stay home, missing social and educational opportunities important to their development and success

“Babies need all their needs met, especially in those early years,” Hugo said. “Adequate diaper supplies make happier and healthier families.”

We provided the CNY Diaper Bank with a grant to hire a part-time program coordinator, its first paid position. With the added capacity, the organization will increase marketing and fundraising efforts. Last year, more than 360 volunteers pitched in to package and distribute 100,000 diapers each month.

This winter, Jameer was among the more than 100 children registered to receive diapers at the Samaritan Center, which is one of 30 agency partners that distribute diapers and offer resources.

Rogers has high hopes for her son.

“He’s very smart,” she said. “He’s going to go far. This guy is going to make something really good of himself.”

In March, the Community Foundation and its partners provided the CNY Diaper Bank with a $10,000 grant from the COVID-19 Community Support Fund. The funding will allow the organization to increase its distribution of diapers, which are not covered by government safety net programs, to families in need.

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