The expenses are adding up for new mother Theresa Marsh. Her daughter is growing. She says larger diaper sizes cost $20 or more per box of 26 to 36 diapers, a supply that lasts roughly two days.
Sometimes Marsh says her child requires 14 diapers a day.
“It worries me not being able to fully provide for my child,” says Marsh, a mother of one. “I’m a hardworking mom. I should be able to provide for her. This economy right now is not the best.”
Marsh says her part-time job “just isn’t cutting it”, so she and the child’s father turned to BabyCycle, South Pinellas County’s only community diaper bank, for some temporary relief. The pair arrived with their daughter for the first time in July.
“It is usually the choice between paying for rent, food or diapers,” says Director Torrie Jasuwan of client needs. “A lot of times diapers come last on that list.”
Jasuwan, a mother of two, started BabyCycle in 2013. The charitable organization distributes baby necessities such as diapers, wipes, clean clothing and food. The distribution warehouse is open two days a week, allowing clients to pick up a one-week supply of diapers every 30 days.
Jasuwan says one in three Pinellas County mothers struggle to provide babies with diapers, and that grandparents caring for grandchildren are also among those in need.
“The lines are growing outside the door. We have more and more women calling,” says the BabyCycle director. “Last week we probably had over 100 phone calls. The summer months are hardest for us. The need is most rampant and donations are all low.”
Jasuwan says the organization’s greatest need is for size 4-5 diapers and wipes.
She recalls one client’s experience with making tough choices.
“The worst story that we ever heard to this day was a mom that was in such great need for diapers that she was able to feed her children, but instead of putting diapers on them she was using paper towels and plastic baggies,” says Jasuwan. “The mom was a good mom. She wasn’t a bad mom; she just didn’t have the means to diaper her kid. She didn’t want the lights to go out. She wanted to be able to feed her kid the next day.”
Clients are allowed to volunteer for assistance with larger items. These items include recycled strollers and cribs.
Stephanie Banks is a single mother of three who began volunteering withBabyCyclee this year. Her youngest child has kidney disease.
“Kidney disease is not something to play with,” says Banks of her 6-month-old son. “At any point in time, he can get a bacterial infection. He can die. I go through twice as many diapers as a normal regular kid.”
She calls volunteering with BabyCycle a “good benefit.”
“Try to pay for two sets of diapers. I go through a lot of money,” says Banks, who volunteers two days a week. “I show up because without them I would be totally devastated.”
Banks says diapers are just one concern. On this day, she says she is worried her children could be in the dark or without water soon. Bills are due and money is low. She understands the people she helps.
“I’m watching them walk in the door and get clothes and diapers and shoes. I know how they feel doing it,” says Banks. “I’m helping other moms.”
Theresa Marsh is one of those mothers.
“It’s such a blessing to have a community say ‘Hey, we know you are struggling. We are here for you. Take our hand’,” says Marsh. “Relief is the biggest thing.”
BabyCycle is located at 5913 Carrier Street in St. Petersburg. The location is closing in two weeks, to be replaced by a brand new facility. It’s scheduled to open on August 18 at 2850 47th Avenue North in St. Petersburg.
Distribution takes place on Mondays and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. by appointment only.
For more information on how to volunteer, schedule an appointment or donate, visit the BabyCycle Florida website at http://www.babycyclefl.org/.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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