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North Hills Monthly

Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank Helps Keep Babies Safe, Dry and Healthy

Dec 31, 2018 07:29PM ● By Marcie Barlow

Pittsburgh Penguins Diaper Drive

Many of us don’t realize just how quickly the cost of diapers can add up, especially when you consider that the average infant or toddler requires 50 diaper changes per week for the first three years of his or her life. And considering that there are no federal or state assistance programs available to help low-income families with these costs, keeping babies dry can be a challenge. 

This is where the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank (WPDB) comes in. An affiliate of the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN), the nonprofit organization was founded in 2012 by the Rev. Phillip Battle and his wife, Cathy.

The Battles learned of the need for diapers while serving at a congregation in Toledo, OH. When they inquired about the services that families in the area were most in need of that were not covered by assistance programs, they were told “diapers.” After relocating to Pittsburgh and researching the subject, the Battles formed the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank.

The organization initially partnered with six agencies in Allegheny County, and it has now grown to 32 partner agencies serving clients in Allegheny, Fayette, Somerset, Westmoreland and Washington counties. In addition, the WPDB has also expanded to providing geriatric diapers and period supplies, as no federal or state assistance programs cover these needs.

Cathy Battle works full time as a respiratory therapist at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville and also serves as the executive director of the WPDB. “We are committed to keeping babies safe, dry and happy,” she said. “In 2017, we provided diapers for 2,500 babies and through November of 2018, that number has increased to 3,000 babies.

“Sadly, the need for this service continues to grow as the average monthly cost of diapers per child is between $70 and $80,” she added. “Lower income families sometimes have to choose between diapers and paying their utility bills, and this is something that should never happen.”

To date, the Diaper Bank has collected and distributed more than half a million diapers—181,000 in the last year alone.

In addition to providing diapers, the organization also works to educate its clients of the potential health risks children face if they are left in a soiled diaper for too long. They also hold diaper drives to collect diapers for those in need, and have drop-off sites for those who want to donate, including at the YMCA at 600 West North Avenue in Pittsburgh.

“Our diaper drives are an excellent way to engage family, friends and business associates,” said Battle. “No drive is too small; your event can be five neighbors getting together for coffee, a school community service project, a youth group or a civic organization. We have even had birthday celebrations where attendees bring diapers rather than gifts for the person celebrating.”

To learn more about holding a diaper drive, visit the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank’s website at www.wpadiaperbank.org. The site also lists the partner agencies that can provide diapers to individuals and families who meet the income guidelines for the program. Individuals or organizations with additional questions can contact the office at 412-373-3074.