Diaper Bank of the Ozarks sees need increase during COVID-19 pandemic

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -- The consistent need for diapers during the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on diaper banks. Diaper Bank of the Ozarks (DBO) Program Director Kelly Paparella said COVID-19 created an even higher need for their supplies.

"Families needed these diapers without this virus issue," explained Paparella."They are a vulnerable population anyways in perfect times."

Paparella said before COVID-19, one in three families already struggled to buy enough diapers to keep their babies clean, dry, and healthy.

Size five diapers are critically low at DBO, and will soon run out. The Diaper Bank typically gives out about 75,000-100,000 diapers each month. Paparella said she expects numbers to jump by an extra 50 thousand diapers for the next few months because of the coronavirus.

"We had to adjust the way we did business because we weren't able to purchase diapers because of the panic buying," explained Paparella.

While the need for diapers isn't slowing down, she said the virus has disproportionately impacted children and families who lack access to basic needs. In efforts to help, through hundreds of partner agencies, in 59 counties, DBO can help families receive additional resources because it serves the community in a more holistic approach.

"Instead of everybody coming to our doors for diapers, they're going to go to other doors and get much more of a service," explained Paparella.

Despite hectic times, Paparella still made it a point to give back to local nurses. With the help of Springfields Garbo's Pizzeria, they were able to provide diapers and food to both day and night shifts to show appreciation for the work their doing. Laine Scholz, with Garbo's Pizzeria, said delivering meals with a simple message meant a lot.

"It's been a tough time for a lot of people, small businesses, health care workers, nonprofits," said Scholz "So when we can get together and do something small, it can make a huge difference."

Paparella said she sees first hand the struggles nurses have, especially ones who don't have time or energy to buy diapers for their babies. She said seeing communities unite to help healthcare workers have been rewarding, and she hopes to see it continue.

The diaper bank has been forming new relationships to try and boost its supply. DBO also has Cloth Diaper Loan Program.

For information on how to access, volunteer, or donate to the Diaper Bank of the Ozarks click here.