The CNY Diaper Bank is among the many non-profits trying to meet skyrocketing demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The organization purchases diapers by the truckload to distribute to families in need.
Founder Michela Hugo says many don’t realize that diapers aren’t covered by safety net programs like WIC or SNAP, even though they’re just as essential as food.
"We've been working on this for four years now, and I never imagined seeing what we're seeing right now, where we just feel like we're barely scratching the surface of of the need in this community."
She says families who were just getting by now find themselves scrambling during the prolonged shut down.
"They've lost hours. They've lost jobs. They've lost pay. This need has just been skyrocketing, not just in our community, but all around the country."
Hugo says requests have been flooding in from families who can’t afford…or find diapers.
"We've had families reaching out for the first time saying 'I've never asked for help before but I'm struggling now.' There are parents who've just had a baby and now don't have a job. It's just all kinds of crisis."
Hugo says she regrets not being able to help all families in need who don’t have any money coming in.
"That's a scary time for any family. We can only give them a small number of diapers. It's not going to fill the whole month. They need to have direct assistance."
She says like food banks, the diaper bank is intended to only supplement a family’s need, and just for the short term. Last week, the diaper bank provided more than 15,000 diapers for nearly 150 toddlers and babies at its first-ever drive-up distribution event.
Hugo says her supply chains have held up, though they’ve been a little slower than normal. And, she’s grateful that community donations have kept pace to meet demand. They were one of the first to receive a COVID crisis funding grant from the Central New York Community Foundation.
Donations can also be made directly to the CNY Diaper Bank as part of its 5th annual "Make a Mother's Day" drive.