Special to Franklin County Free Press
June of 2015 marked a unique “beginning of giving” at the Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Chambersburg.
A member of the church was struggling to make ends meet with her family and two infants. Filled with despair, yet hopeful for answers to her prayers, she reached out to some members of her church.
She spoke of the lack of access to disposable diapers that she and other struggling young parents were facing. Her wish was to work with the church to find a welcoming place for families to receive diapers.
She was comfortable sharing her idea because Central Presbyterian Church was a place of kindness, generosity and providing for the less-fortunate.
Luckily, she presented this idea of donating diapers to three extremely caring members of the congregation. They heard her compassionate plea to help others and immediately started to research this need to make this wish a reality for young families.
The research they found was eye-opening.
According to the National Diaper Bank Network, children in low-income families are at greatest risk of suffering the effects of diaper need because families can’t afford them.
An average monthly supply of diapers costs approximately $80 per infant. One in three families report the need for diapers. Infants require up to 12 diapers a day. There are no state or federal programs that allocate money specifically for the purchase of diapers.
For many, cloth diapers aren’t an option either, especially if they have to do their laundry at a laundromat. Laundromats don’t allow washing cloth diapers in their machines.
The Creation of Diaper Depot
Dana Kardisco, then Director of Music at Central Presbyterian, along with Dottie Bush and Sue Stahl, put their heads together and created the Diaper Depot. The ladies presented their plan to Pastor Scott Bowerman, who blessed them with the use of the church’s Friendship Hall.
The mission of Diaper Depot is to provide disposable diapers for babies and toddlers whose families are struggling to meet this basic need, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.
The doors of the first Diaper Depot opened in June of 2015. It started with 44 families enjoying a warm, all-you-can-eat breakfast of pancakes and sausages. Volunteers welcomed the families with open arms. Parents and caregivers left with diaper-filled arms and a genuine appreciation for such kindness.
With a new year upon them and 200 Diaper Depot families strong, Co-presidents Dottie and Sue look forward to helping even more families in need.
“This wouldn’t be possible without all of community support and kindness we’ve received over the years,” they said.
Struggling Mom Makes Wish Come True
Dottie and Sue reflected on all that has happened because of one struggling, yet strong-willed woman’s wish. They believe they were called to do this work and are forever grateful for all of the God moments they have encountered. Forever blessed to see a community working together for the purpose of helping others is a gift in and of itself to them.
They give thanks to the people and organizations who continue to believe in Diaper Depot’s mission:
- Dentists Dr. Steve Parrett and Dr. Evan Smith who attend each Diaper Depot to provide dental care to the families
- Pete and Jerry’s Egg Farm for the 200 dozen free-range eggs per month
- Keystone Health Community Outreach and Desi who shares services to families
- Members of the congregation who continue to volunteer their time and donate money
- CASHS and CMS National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta members who volunteer
- Cumberland Valley Christian School for community service hours
- Shalom Academy for no-sew hats
- Sewing Circles for knitting baby blankets
- Jet.com – a provider of diapers through the federal “Community Diaper Programs”
- Leadership Franklin County for support and future technology plans
- Chef Scott Shearer who prepares breakfast for 400 people each month on a shoestring budget
- Rotary volunteers and grant awards
- F&M Trust Endowment
- SCAAP and the Gleaning Project
- The late Julio Lecuona and the late Alex Shearer who provided tremendous support
Called to the Diaper Mission
Dottie Bush, a former CASD math teacher who lost her mother in February of 2015, believes wholeheartedly that she was called to this mission.
“It was a difficult time in my life when I retired from teaching then lost my mother,” she said. ”Prayer opened this door for me. Diaper Depot is a God-driven mission. I’m blessed to be a part of it.”
She is happy the program has prospered and still provides families with diapers, clothing, books, and a warm all-you-can-eat breakfast each month.
“It’s a lot of hard work but when you experience joy by helping others, it’s all worth it,” she said.
Sue Stahl, CASD special education teacher and one of Dottie’s former church youth group students, enjoys the blessings she experiences through Diaper Depot each month.
Diaper Depot has made her realize just how difficult life is for so many community members. Each month she is humbled by the volunteers and the families who appreciate this service.
“You can’t walk out of here without being touched by what you’ve done and the people you’ve impacted,” she said. “We hear incredibly heartwarming stories each month about how Diaper Depot has made a difference in their lives. Blessings come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and languages and when we are all together at Diaper Depot, we are one blessed and united family. Smiles and kindness are understood in every language!”
Diaper Depot is typically open the third Saturday of each month. The next one takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
It takes 50 volunteers each month to unpack the diapers and set everything up for each event.
To learn more about becoming involved with the mission of Diaper Depot, contact Dottie Bush at email@example.com.