The Diaper Resource Center (DRC) in West Plains was organized in early 2015 with the mission “to furnish local distributing agencies with diapers for at-risk, early childhood youth to enhance the families’ resources and improve their well-being,” and eight years into striving toward that goal, it seems to be making strides.
As of this month, DRC has provided over 350,000 disposable diapers to eight agencies that, in turn, distribute those diapers to area families. And that’s not counting the cloth diaper kits available through the Howell County Health Department.
The DRC’s ultimate objective, say organizers, is to end “diaper need.”
What is diaper need? According to resource officials, 1 in 3 families struggles to provide enough diapers each day to keep their babies clean and dry, leading to what has become known as “diaper need.” There are currently no federal or state programs which assist with the purchase of diapers, officials note, adding, “There are many circumstances which can create diaper need, and whatever those circumstances are, they don't erase the fact that babies need clean and dry bottoms to stay healthy and happy.”
Diaper banks such as DRC function as storehouses for diapers like food banks do for food. The resource providers rely on members of the community, churches and other organizations to hold diaper drives and diaper showers, and for individuals and businesses to provide monetary and in-kind donations to sustain their supply.
Current distributing agencies include His Place House of Worship Diaper Ministry, Martha Vance Samaritan Outreach Center and Christos House Outreach.
Clients are also served through the Howell County Health Department, 37th Division Children’s Services, Ozark Action Early Head Start, Pregnancy Resource Center and the Chaos Closet. Anyone with needs should contact those agencies directly with inquiries.
The cloth diaper loan program, which began in 2016, expands the efforts of the group. Starter kits are distributed to Howell County families. If interested, phone the Howell County Health Department 417-256-7078.
Donations of disposable diapers can be dropped off between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays year-round at Ozark Action, 710 E. Main St., West Plains. Ozark Action provides DRC with warehouse space for diapers.
Area churches, businesses, organizations or individuals who wish to contribute toward addressing diaper need in the local area may inquire by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone to 417-256-6147, or by mail at P.O. Box 1773, West Plains, MO 65775.
Presentations are available for groups on request. Visit Facebook page, “Diaper Resource Center - West Plains for updates.”
Any Howell County group wishing to apply as a distributing agency should email or phone for an application.
DRC, a 501(c)(3) organization, receives some support as an affiliate of Diaper Bank of the Ozarks.