WEST PEORIA — Sister Ana Pia knows that diapers aren't glamorous.
But for new, low-income parents, they can be a crucial item to receive from food pantries or from social service agencies such as Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria.
"It's not a glamorous gift, but it is a needed one," the sister said moments after accepting a donation at the group's St. Gianna Baby Pantry on its Heading Avenue campus. "We give a considerable amount per month, per mother. We're always in need, particularly for (bigger sizes)."
Joyce Derenzy, the associate executive director at the Center for Prevention of Abuse, concurred.
"It might not seem like a big thing, but it is. It can have a huge impact," she said right after receiving a delivery of donations for her organization.
Both of those, as well as another at the Peoria Area Food Bank and others last week in Chillicothe, Lacon and Spring Bay, came from residents in the Peoria area who gave them during state Rep. Ryan Spain's holiday diaper drive. It brought in 4,000 diapers, 5,000 wipes and several dozen diaper creams, spread among the groups.
Earlier this year, the Peoria Republican heard testimony during a Human Services Appropriations Committee hearing about the difficulty low-income families have affording diapers.
“Many people don’t realize that programs like WIC and SNAP do not pay for diapers, rash creams or other infant supplies," he said. "Diapers are an essential and often overlooked need for families struggling financially around the holidays.”
Add to that the need at places like the Center for Prevention of Abuse, where, "sometimes folks will come to us in the middle of the night," Derenzy said. "If you're fleeing a situation, you certainly don't have time to think about, 'What am I going to take?'"
Still, few people think about donating them to food pantries or social service entities — and with those on a tight budget, the cost can be too much.
"Diapers are pretty expensive," Derenzy agrees.
Diapers cost an average of $18 per week or $936 per year, according to information from Spain's office. His office also cited information from the National Diaper Bank Network that low-income families report a shortage of 50 diapers per month.
Each of the three organizations accepts donations from the public directly. The center can be reached at 691-0551; Catholic Charities at 636-8012; and the food bank at 671-3906.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.