Over the past few weeks, stores have struggled to keep toilet paper, sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer on shelves. The same has been happening with diapers and baby wipes, but local Bloomington and Monroe County organizations are working to make sure families have what they need to take care of their babies.
Jess McCanse, the manager of the All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center in Bloomington, has been helping families get diapers and other baby necessities through the All-Options Hoosier Diaper Program. Since the spread of COVID-19 was labeled a pandemic and President Donald Trump extended social distancing guidelines through the end of April on Sunday, McCanse has had to change the way she gets supplies to families — and how many families she helps every day.
McCanse said the diaper program has been running for almost five years. In that time, she said she’s sent well over a million diapers to local families, around 8,000 each month. The program is funded through donations, grants and fundraisers. She expects things to get worse and for families to need more help over the next couple months.
Over the past week McCanse said she has received calls and texts from about a dozen more people asking for help. Store shelves are void of baby wipes and diapers, and they aren’t sure where else to turn.
She said instead of people coming into the building like normal, they have to call and let her know they’re in need of diapers or other materials. McCanse said she leaves the items outside the door and instructs the person picking it up to wait until she’s back inside before they grab their things.
McCanse is the only person from All-Options working to get diapers to families right now, she said. All volunteers with the program have been asked to stay home or are working on other projects. McCanse said her job is considered an essential service, so she’s still able to help families as long as she stays within the latest public health guidelines.
McCanse said she’s designating noon to 5 p.m. every Tuesday for distributing diapers.
The program accepts diaper donations of any brand and size from community members, but they’re only accepting unopened diaper packages right now, McCanse said. Community members can also sponsor families and help them get the resources they need.
“We don’t require our clients to give us any coupons or take classes or anything like that,” McCanse said. “If they have a need, we’re there to meet that need without any judgment.”
With stores running out of diapers and sanitary wipes, McCanse said she’s had to change where they get diapers from to make sure they don’t take things from stores that people may need last minute. She said the organization is part of the National Diaper Bank Network, and it has have access to medical suppliers who can ship diapers.
For more information on where you can get assistance with diaper supply and to set up an appointment, call 812-558-0089 or visit the program’s website.
Other organizationssuch as Middle Way House are still helping families with similar needs, including diapers and baby wipes.
“We’re working to make sure folks we’re serving have what they need, especially right now,” said Debra Morrow, the executive director of Middle Way House.
Morrow said the center is still helping those who need a place to stay or need help getting meals and other items for their families. She said they’ve added a 24-hour messaging service for those who may be isolated with their abuser and have no other safe way to get ahold of someone. The information for the messaging service can be found on their website.
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