Students notice a need, initiate diaper drive

Allie Broockerd

A year’s supply of diapers costs about $936 annually. At minimum wage, this costs a single mother 6 percent of her income, according to an article called ‘The Diaper Dilemma’ by Olga Khazan in The Atlantic.

Life as a low income parent can be challenging. While there are programs such as Women, Infants and Children that help to provide food for children, there are few resources to provide diapers. Khazan’s piece discusses low income parents who have had to use unconventional methods to stretch out the life cycle of a diaper. Students in Sangyoub Park’s sociology class were compelled to help after hearing about these techniques.

“We learned that some parents scrape poop out of diapers and bleach them to reuse them, it’s sad,” said Brandon Black, senior psychology and sociology major.

The students organized a diaper drive to raise money and provide diapers for Washburn students or parents in the community who are too overwhelmed with the cost of surviving to afford necessities like diapers.

“Housing is really expensive, and you must be under a certain income in order to qualify for help even though you might really need it.” Angela Hockenberry, senior sociology major, said.

Family size and percentage of the median income of the state you live in determine if you qualify for low income housing, more commonly called Section 8 housing. The median income in Kansas is about $50,000 annually. To qualify for Section 8 as a single person, you must make less than 30 percent of the median income. This ends up being about $15,000 annually to qualify according to the Section 8 Housing website.

“I’ve known a couple people who have had financial struggles and have left children in diapers longer than they should, just because they cannot afford to change them.” Hockenberry, said.

One of the leading causes of mental health issues among new mothers stems from not being able to afford diapers for their children, according to a study cited in ‘The Diaper Dilemma.’ 

Students and faculty can donate April 10-12. Diapers and proceeds will benefit both The Exchange and the Topeka Rescue Mission. Black hopes this student-led initiative can provide some relief.

“We should be trying to help low-income parents, not punish them.”