Diaper-collection moves to Detroit police precincts

Corey Williams
Associated Press

Detroit — A group of Detroit-area teenagers is working with police in the city to collect 80,000 disposable diapers for needy families with babies.

Beginning Monday and running through Oct. 4, boxes and packages of diapers can be dropped off at any police precinct in Detroit as part of Diapers for the D.

“No one thinks about it as a problem,” Ronnie Ahlborn said about the difficulties some parents have buying diapers. “People think of food and shelter and water as essentials. Once we explain (the importance of diapers) to them, they usually are totally on board and want to help us out.”

Ahlborn and others in the group wanted to start their drive after the closure last year of an area organization that collected and distributed diapers to families. The Detroit Area Diaper Bank collected and distributed nearly 2 million children and adult diapers before shutting down in 2014, the organization said as it announced its closing on its website.

Ahlborn, 15, of Bloomfield Hills, north of Detroit, said her group has held fundraisers to help reach its cash goal of $5,000.

The Detroit Police Department is a sponsor. The Detroit-based Development Centers will help distribute the diapers to families.

It’s difficult for young people to sometimes understand all that it takes to care for a baby, said Courtney Weaver, 15, of Bloomfield Hills. Weaver is another member of the group.

“We don’t recognize how much hard work and money and devotion it takes to raise a child,” she said. “Some parents do it on their own.”

Yale University researchers determined in a study released two years ago in the journal Pediatrics that nearly one-third of New Haven, Connecticut, mothers they surveyed could not afford to buy diapers for their children. The study found that an adequate supply of children’s diapers cost $18 a week and that a single mother making the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would have to pay more than 6 percent of her gross earnings to afford diapers for one child.

That leaves children without access to fresh diapers at risk for urinary tract infections and dermatitis from diaper rash.

“People take for granted that everybody can afford diapers — that’s not the reality,” Detroit Police Commander Todd Bettison said. “When it was brought to our attention — the basic necessity of helping a child get fresh diapers — we thought this was a worthy cause and something to be a part of.”