WEST PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - With so many families struggling because of the pandemic, it’s especially hard for those with babies.
There are moments with their children that mom Shannon and dad Gary won’t forget, but there’s another moment, from just last week, that Shannon can’t shake.
“We were counting coins to get a gallon of milk,” she said. “I was counting coins for one gallon of milk.”
Shannon stays at home with her 3-year-old daughter Emma. Her 10-year-old son, Daniel, is now going to school virtually.
About a decade ago, Gary fell off of a scaffolding at his construction job.
“And nearly broke his back,” Shannon said.
Broken shoulders, a hernia and injuries to his knees and hand left him unable to work.
“He gets SSI, and he doesn’t get very much,” Shannon said.
The federal program WIC, aimed at families with young children, helps with food, but there’s one thing it doesn’t cover.
“There’s no resources that provide diapers to families in South Florida,” said Brittany Wolfe, founder of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Diaper Bank, “so you can’t get them through WIC, you can’t get them through food stamps. There’s no way families can get diapers.”
Diapers can cost a family hundreds of dollars a year, which is why Wolfe founded her organization.
The diaper bank operates once a month, handing out about 1,000 packs of diapers a month, much like a food bank.
A 2017 study found one in three American families have a hard time covering the cost of diapers, and with the COVID crisis, the need is only growing.
“It’s so hard for everyone, so we’ve been doing as much as we can,” Wolfe said.
“You save $20 here, $15 there, it does food, lights,” Gary said. “It all adds up.”
Some parents, Wolfe said, are forced to take extreme measures to stretch out their supply.
“A mom will contact me. A mom says, ‘My baby was in the hospital, in NICU because I was using Luvs or Pampers, and I was washing them out with soap and water and hanging to dry,’ but bacteria lives on a diaper and it doesn’t go away,” she said.
When asked if she ever had to resort to that, Shannon replied, “I tried. Yeah, yeah. I was like, ‘Oh, my God. I’m reduced to doing this, but luckily, I rigged like a pad on it for her, and it worked out.”
In a year full of struggles, Shannon said the diaper bank eases a small daily struggle by helping a parent provide one very basic need.
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Bank holds its diaper giveaway once a month — the first Thursday of every month — at the Cooper City Fire Station.
Those interested must register ahead of time and can do so by clicking here.
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