Diapers are a “fundamental need” for babies, but for some families they are in short supply, Maggie Schneemann said.
When a family’s diaper supply dwindles, babies sleep in grocery bags or rags in order to save the diapers they do have for day care. Some babies wear just one diaper a day, she said, causing serious infections and health concerns.
“This goes so far beyond diaper rash,” she said.
Schneemann is helping to solve the problem by founding the Dayton Diaper Depot, a nonprofit group of volunteers that has distributed more than 46,000 diapers to babies in need since last September. The organization’s goal is to pass out 200,000 diapers this year.
“Once you understand the need, you just have to do something,” said the Washington Township mother and grandma.
Since it began in April 2021, Dayton Diaper Depot has distributed diapers largely through two food pantries and six high schools. The organization is actively looking to partner with other agencies in order to increase the number of children it serves, Schneemann said.
Distributing diapers boosts the comfort and health of babies, while also improving the economic conditions of their mothers, she said. The cost of diapers isn’t covered by resources such as the Women, Infants and Children program or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and day cares often require diapers before children can be dropped off.
Schneemann, who also is an operations manager at Dayton Supply and Tool, learned that many mothers in high school were absent because they didn’t have the diapers needed by their day cares. When diaper distribution began at their schools, attendance among the mothers improved by 10 percent, she said.
“They want to be in school, and they want to be out of poverty,” she said. “They just need help getting there.”
Schneemann’s daughter is on the board of Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank in Cincinnati, and the Dayton Diaper Depot is modeled after its success. The local group has five board members and a core group of about 10 volunteers, Schneemann said, and other groups and organizations also are volunteering, bundling diapers and providing grants.
Demi Miller is one of the board members and a family friend. She nominated Schneemann as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.
“She is so passionate about this cause, and she worked so hard to get this thing up and going,” Miller said.
Miller herself knew little about the cause before Schneemann reached out to her, but watching Schneemann start the Dayton Diaper Depot from the ground up has been inspiring, she said. Schneemann is building awareness of the issue throughout the area, and seeing the impact that the organization makes in the lives of others motivates her, Miller said.
“It’s a sad thing to see in our community, but to know that we can give diapers to even one mom is something she’s so giddy about,” said Miller, of Dayton.
One in three families has been affected by diaper need, Schneemann said. It is a need she can’t ignore.
“We’re going to grow until every baby is healthy and taken care of,” Schneemann said.
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