Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hill District 'Bank' Takes in, Gives out Diapers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hill District 'Bank' Takes in, Gives out Diapers

Article excerpt

Bryttney Johnson-Dukes has grown used to stretching her paychecks, shopping for essentials at discount stores each month for her and her 2-year-old daughter.

But even though the Trafford woman, who plans to pursue a cosmetology license, remains optimistic about the future, she worries that extra expenses leave her with little to sacrifice.

"Times are hard," said Ms. Johnson-Dukes, 24. She works at a day care center in Monroeville, where she has enrolled her daughter, Gianna. Many of her friends who have children face similar circumstances, she said.

But she said her finances have proved a bit less burdensome since she learned about a nonprofit that has supplied her with what can be a hefty expense: disposable diapers.

The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank has supplied tens of thousands of disposable diapers to low-income parents across the region since it started a few years ago, coordinating deliveries and helping to organize a number of diaper drives.

It is meant to help fill what remains a large, though somewhat overlooked, void.

Unlike other essential goods covered under social service programs, no government assistance is available for diapers.

Low-income parents in southwestern Pennsylvania need an estimated 140,000 diapers a day, including nearly 80,000 in Allegheny County, according to extrapolations from 2012 U.S. Census Bureau figures and estimates from the National Diaper Bank Network.

"This is a need," said Ron Cichowicz, a spokesman for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, which is promoting an effort for diaper drives throughout February at a number of churches.

That is what led the Rev. Phillip Battle Jr. and his wife, Cathy, to start the nonprofit after the two moved to the Pittsburgh area in 2011.

While teaching an after-school program in 2008 in Toledo, Ohio, Rev. Battle, 55, was moved by a conversation with a group of grandparents. One of the biggest financial hurdles for parents of young children, they agreed, is diapers. …

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