Twice As Nice strives to keep pace with diaper demand
If a parent must choose between paying for rent, food or diapers, the baby likely spends more time in soiled swaddling or simply goes without.
And since even subsidized child care centers won't take children without an adequate supply of diapers, preventing a single parent from working, the situation fuels an even greater level of dependence in already poverty-stricken or low-income households.
"In 2015, we distributed 75,000 diapers," said Ann Marie Mathis, who founded the nonprofit agency Twice As Nice Mother & Child in 2010. "By 2016, it was 101,900. And in 2017, 200,000. We're on target to do 300,000 in 2018 -- and we aren't even close to meeting the need.
"There is no state or federal program that assists families with diaper needs," Mathis said. "Moms and dads can't use food stamps or WIC or SNAP for diapers. Diapers cost $80 to $100 per month, per child."
While Mathis founded her agency initially to connect parents in need with basics like clothing, strollers, bouncy chairs, shoes, pack-and-plays and the like -- a service it still provides in conjunction with roughly 30 partnering agencies -- the need for diapers has taken center stage.
Twice As Nice accepts donations of diapers in all sizes, or cash to purchase them. A drop-off bin is located outside the office door, 4185 Grove Ave., Gurnee.
One in three mothers in the United States reports suffering from diaper need, according to the National Diaper Bank Network. Nearly half (47 percent) of the 11 million children ages infant to 3 in the U.S. are living in lower-income households, the network's website states.
Twice As Nice Mother & Child now funnels all financial donations toward its diaper procurement and distribution efforts, and hosts an annual Bottoms Up for Babies fundraiser each fall at North Shore Distillery. Roughly 2,000 babies currently are assisted across 31 Lake County ZIP codes, Mathis said.
Distribution programs include a mobile diaper pantry on second and fourth Wednesdays in the parking lots of the Warren-Newport Public Library in Gurnee from 9-11 a.m. and Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep in Waukegan from noon to 2 p.m.
No proof of income or citizenship are required, but completion of a registration form is necessary, as is photo identification. The one-time forms can be completed online at twiceasnicemc.org.
In addition to diapers and cash donations, Twice As Nice accepts new or gently used maternity wear and children's clothing and shoes in sizes infant to 12, as well as other infant-care items such as car seats, cribs, high chairs and more. Pickup service is offered within a 25-mile radius of the Gurnee office.
To help, call (224) 637-1644 or visit the website and click on "Contact Us."
Those in need of assistance are encouraged to visit twiceasnicemc.org and click on "Need a Hand?"
Twice As Nice Mother & Child Founder and Executive Director Ann Marie Mathis lives in Wadsworth with her husband, Michael, and their seven children, who range in age from 4 months to 9 years. Twice As Nice is all volunteer-run and relies on donations to assist those in need.
"Parenting is challenging enough, and it's even more so when you lack the basic necessities," Mathis said. "My goal is to make sure that these things are provided free of charge to the people who need them."