PEORIA — Volunteers wrapped and catalogued 10,000 diapers Tuesday to help more than 200 local babies at the Peoria County Bright Futures building.
Lee Ann Porter is the founder and executive director of Loving Bottoms, a Galesburg-based diaper bank that brought them here as part of an expansion of services into the region.
The diaper bank was founded back in 2015 after Porter recognized the continual struggle of buying diapers for many families.
“Our goal is to collect as many diapers as possible,” Porter said. “We get them out through partner agencies who work with families in need. Similarly (to) a food bank, but we do diapers.”
Porter can feel for single moms struggling to make ends meet because she once was one.
“There were a lot of resources for a lot of different things, but nobody had diapers,” Porter said. “They were something that even if I had food stamps I couldn’t get diapers. That was a hard period for me.”
Now, Loving Bottoms has expanded from Knox County and eight other counties in west-central Illinois into the Peoria and Tazewell counties. Porter is currently helping small rural communities around Peoria.
At Tuesday’s diaper wrapping event there were five agencies dividing up the 10,000 diapers to take back to their organizations. There are five partner agencies currently working with Loving Bottoms in the Peoria area: Peoria County Bright Futures, IGrow, Early Head Start, Treatment Alternative for Safe Communities (TASC), and Tazewell County Health Department.
“We currently have a wait-list to be a partner agency, especially in the Peoria area, and with that we just need more funding, more diapers,” Porter said.
Peoria County Bright Futures was one of the first partner agencies with Loving Bottoms in the Peoria area.
“We have had two loads of diapers that we’ve gone to Galesburg to pick up,” Erin Stout, program director for Bright Futures said. “Our home visitors get to take a pack of diapers out with them on every home visit to every child in the house.”
Bright Futures serves more than 80 families outside the city with 4 home visitors covering the families.
“You would think with the Peoria area being so big that we would have one [diaper bank], but we didn’t,” Stout said. “When she came [Porter] to the meeting and said “‘This is what I do’” and I’m like ''’Sign me up!’” I’m not leaving here until you sign us up.”
Funding for this diaper drive came from the Local Interagency Council. Once the diapers are divided among the agencies they take them back to help their communities.
“The families that are in need can reach out to those agencies to get the diapers,” Michelle Harr, program manager for the council, said. “We do need everyone’s support to sustain this diaper bank.”
Porter, Stout, and Harr all want to see regular diaper bank events in the Peoria area. Porter says Loving Bottoms will distribute between 150,000 to 250,000 diapers this year.