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A Ministry of Diapers

May 17, 2009

 

Clare and I frequently have the delightful privilege of caring for our grandson, Ben, now all of four months old. Ben and I have been getting to know each other. We talk about fishing and sing silly songs together. He laughs at my corny jokes. We often take naps together in a big recliner. Occasionally, when his grandmother is otherwise occupied, I change his diaper. 

The Apostle Paul wrote a passage of scripture about the resurrection.  It’s one that most of us have read and know quite well.  While I am usually an advocate for interpreting scripture in context, this particular passage has remarkable application when taken out of context.  In fact, it is a passage that might well be engraved on a plaque and displayed at the entrance of every nursery in every church and daycare center.  “Lo, I tell you a great mystery.  We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (I Corinthians 15:51).

When our first child was born, Clare and I received a wonderful gift from friends, one month of diaper service.  When the free service ended, all of the diapers belonged to us.  In those days, we used cloth diapers, safety pins, and plastic pants with all of our children. 

Then, as now, changing diapers was a task I did infrequently.  Clare was far more adept at handling that chore.  I do know that changing a cloth diaper meant positioning your hand so that if a flesh wound was inflicted, it would be to yourself and not to the baby.  Nothing in the world would make you feel less like a candidate for Mother or Father of the Year than sticking your baby with a safety pin.  Now, that way of changing a baby is as antiquated as a tin can.  Disposable diapers have taken the place of cloth.

The birth of our grandson, Ben, has made me more aware of diapers, the need for regular changes, and the convenience of disposable diapers. 

A recent article in Time magazine by Belinda Luscombe called to my attention an important deficit in our care for families in need.  Hygiene supplies are not covered by food stamps or by any other government assistance.  Among the necessities that are excluded are diapers.

Joanne Goldbloom, a social worker, saw indigent mothers reusing soiled diapers on their babies. She realized how unsanitary this practice was and how harmful it could be to children.  Most daycare centers require parents to provide diapers.  Without daycare, many parents cannot work, look for work, or attend school.  Cloth diapers don’t help low income families who are often without washing machines or money to use at a laundromat.  The most serious consequence is that babies who don’t have clean diapers cry, cry a lot.  That crying may lead to child abuse.

Five years ago, Goldbloom started a Diaper Bank in her town in Connecticut.  This bank buys 250,000 diapers at a time from a manufacturer. During these days of difficult economic circumstances, the Diaper Bank gives away 200,000 diapers a month, mostly to residents of public housing and to agencies that work with low income families. The recipients, both children and parents, are deeply appreciative.

As I read the article in Time, I thought of Ben and all of the babies who are cared for in our church nursery. When Paul Clay, Director of TOTAL Ministries, told one of our members that diapers for distribution to needy families are in short supply, it occurred to me that the Morningside congregation could help.  It would be appropriate and helpful for members of Morningside to purchase disposable diapers for these families.  Volunteers will see that the diapers get to TOTAL Ministries.

Other congregations are invited to join this effort. I am sure that other agencies have as great a need as TOTAL Ministeries. We can all help.

Forgive me for putting it this way, but where diapers for indigent families are concerned, it is time for a change.

Kirk H. Neely
© May 2009
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