Diaper Drive raises awareness of diaper dilemma

Students in Associate Professor Sangyoub Park’s Social Class in the U.S. course will hold the Diaper Drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 26 through Friday, March 29 in the Memorial Union.

One of the biggest problems that families face when welcoming and raising a baby is trying to provide the diapers that the baby needs. Babies on average need 50 changes per week, costing $70 to $80 per month, and 1 in 3 American families cannot afford to buy diapers, according to researchers. Diapers cost families about $1,000 each year. It’s hard for the family to buy diapers, who barely have money to feed the family and pay rent.

“They [students] are always shocked by No. 1, diaper is expensive, and a lot of students aren’t aware of how expensive it is,” said Park. “A lot of families have to find a way to use diaper over and over, [and] sometimes they reuse. Students are shocked by the fact that they [family] have to reuse the diaper.”

Sangyoub Park is a sociology and anthropology professor. He has recruited his students from his course about Social Class in the U.S. to plan the Diaper Drive and help the young children in the Topeka community. It’s the second year they have had the Diaper Drive as the class project and it’s a real-life example of how social class makes a difference in the community.

“We are not just studying it, we can go beyond the textbook and the classroom,” said Park. “I want our students to know there are things they can do to help the low-income families and they can utilize what they learn in class.”

Soiled diapers can cause illness in infants, and cloth diapers are not a viable alternative because many low-income families can’t afford a washer and a dryer. In many places, it’s illegal to wash them at most public laundry facilities. In addition, daycare establishments require the use of disposable diapers.

Monica Beltran, junior sociology and Spanish major, is one of the students in Park’s class. She runs the social media part of the project, and she created the Facebook page and the GoFundMe page.

“It’s something we need to raise more awareness for,” Beltran said. “One of the articles that we were reading, it was saying that they washed the reusable diapers and they use other methods to try to use plastic bags as diapers. That was extremely impactful for me, because I didn’t think about that before.”

Any funds collected through the campaign will be used to purchase diapers that will then be donated to families and children in need.

People can drop off or donate at the Diaper Drive. If people would like to donate but are unable to physically provide diapers, online donations are accepted. For more information, visit the Washburn University Diaper Drive Facebook page or the fundraising page https://www.gofundme.com/diapers4all?teamInvite=BESe9GokFmYMrYFCPca7VYmKuuG8UpHBFESbJSfDKkJVqzjbB95rWKB9qSimuk5A.

“Just raising awareness of the issue is an achievement for our students,” said Park. “We know people struggle with not having jobs or housing, but they don’t see the diaper dilemma because it just hidden.”