Great Northern Corporation’s Crystal Aston believes diapers should be viewed just as important as food, clothing and shelter. To address a need she sees in the community, Aston has established the first Diaper Bank in Siskiyou County.

Great Northern Corporation’s Crystal Aston believes diapers should be viewed just as important as food, clothing and shelter. To address a need she sees in the community, Aston has established the first Diaper Bank in Siskiyou County.

“By changing our baby’s diaper and keeping them clean and dry, it’s an important act that shows them they are loved and cared for,” said Aston, a program manager at GNC, who's also the mother of two. “When you don’t have clean diapers for your child, it affects how you feel about yourself as a parent.”

While at first, the bank will serve families in need in the Weed area, Aston’s longer term goal is to expand the program to serve the entire county. She’s currently looking for donations of new, opened or partial packages of diapers in sizes baby through adult.

“We see families all the time through our many programs who are struggling to make ends meet to the point that children’s basic needs are often compromised.

“For many families, spending roughly $40 to $60 a month on diapers is a daunting challenge. Some parents are forced to forgo employment or educational opportunities since many daycare programs will not accept children without a supply of disposable diapers,” Aston said.

Adult incontinence products are also something low income families and individuals may have difficulty affording, Aston said.

Seniors who can’t afford incontinence supplies often become homebound out of fear of leaving the house unprotected, Aston explained. This can lead to a loss of independence, isolation and depression. It can also put more pressure on other social services like Meals on Wheels.

According to the National Diaper Bank network, diaper need is a silent crisis in the United States. The federal government makes very little provision to provide diapers to those in need.

Federal benefits such as Food Stamps and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children cannot be spent on diapers.

Families unable to afford diapers are forced to choose between a range of undesirable alternatives that can severely impact the health and well-being of both their child and their household, said Aston.

Many families report that they cut back on basics such as food, utilities or child care in order to purchase diapers.

The nearest diaper banks are in Sacramento and Portland, Aston said. She’s currently investigating grant funding to expand her idea.

It’s her hope that GNC can eventually distribute diapers throughout Siskiyou County through their food distribution program, which many Siskiyou County residents are already familiar with.

“Through this new Diaper Bank program, GNC hopes to find a way to raise awareness and find solutions to this problem in our rural county where according to the US Census, an estimated 24 percent of families here are living at or below the poverty line,” Aston said. “I see this as a huge need, and it’s a passion of mine.”

How to donate

Donors may drop off new cloth diapers or disposable diapers in all sizes to the GNC offices at 780 S. Davis Avenue in Weed Monday through Thursday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can also call Aston at 938-4115, extension 126. Diaper wipes are also being accepted.

If you are interested in receiving help from the Diaper Bank, call Aston at the number above.

Information about GNC and their programs and services is available online at http://www.gnccorp.org/.