Diaper drive covers basic need of families in the Highland Lakes

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — It’s one of those overlooked needs, but one that has many parents struggling to keep up. Cathy Lemlyn has seen the problem first hand as the service coordinator for the Bluebonnet Trails Early Childhood Intervention program.

“There are a lot of families who struggle with diapers,” she said. “They’re expensive, and if you have a child with a medical condition like cystic fibrosis, you can really have a hard time keeping up with all the diapers they need.”

Financially, the cost of diapers can weigh heavily on a family, and not just poor families. Lemlyn pointed out even middle- and upper-class families that have infants with serious medical conditions can be pushed to the point of financial problems.

“I actually had one family who would wash out and dry (disposable diapers),” Lemlyn said.

In an effort to help those families, Lemlyn is creating a diaper bank through Bluebonnet Trails ECI. The program is part of the special education program for birth to age 21, but Lemlyn focuses on children from birth to 36 months. She provides support and services to the qualified children and families. One of the recurring themes she witnesses is the need for diapers.

“It’s a huge need, almost as big as the need for food,” Lemlyn said.

By creating a diaper bank, Lemlyn hopes to get donations of disposable diapers and baby wipes to help families that are struggling to keep up with their children’s needs. And while the average infant and toddler can go through quite a few diapers a week, a baby with a medical condition, including being born prematurely or suffering with shor-gut syndrome, need a lot more.

While reusable or cloth diapers are one option, Lemlyn said many of the families she works with are economically disadvantaged, so they don’t have their own washer and dryer, forcing them to use a laundry mat or similar service. These businesses often don’t allow cloth diapers in their machines, which basically forces the parent to use disposable ones. Even daycares are reluctant to accept cloth diapers, Lemlyn said.

As some families face the daunting struggles of keeping up with the cost of diapers, Lemlyn fears parents sometimes might leave their children in dirty diapers longer just to save money. This, Lemlyn pointed out, could raise more health issues.

“We’ve seen more cases of MRSA in the diaper area of children,” Lemlyn said. “I wonder if one of the problems is parents feel forced to keep their children in dirty diapers because of the costs.”

MRSA is methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, a staph infection that demonstrates resistance to some antibiotics.

And it’s not just families with which Lemlyn works that struggle with the diaper issue. Lemlyn has spoken with other nonprofits across the Highland Lakes that work with families and young children, and those agencies also have noted the issue. Lemlyn constantly researches ideas and issues her clients face. During one of those forays, she discovered the diaper bank idea.

Now, she hopes to create one here. But the first step is letting people know about the need and how to make donations.

She’ll hold a diaper drive Aug. 8-10 at the Marble Falls Walmart. But people don’t have wait until then, Lemlyn will gladly accept donations of diapers and baby wipes before, during and after the event. After all, this is a continuing need. She’ll even take loose diapers.

“If somebody wants to make a donation, just call me, and I’ll come and get them,” she said.

Call Lemlyn at (512) 755-0522 or email her at catherine.lemlyn@bbtrails.org for more information or to make a donation.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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