Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest.  First, start with what we all know – that babies are expensive.  Second, understand that a single component of that cost – diapers – can be as much as $130 a month.  Third, realize that the cost of purchasing these items can break a young family’s budget and that, according to a recent study by Huggies Diapers, one in  three American mothers struggle to provide diapers for their infants.  Finally, come to grips with the fact that lack of clean diapers can hurt the health of the baby, particularly through infections.

Lack of diapers can also leave mothers with the difficult decision to sacrifice basics such as food and utilities.  Even childcare can be lost because childcare providers typically require clients to provide a full day’s supply of diapers for their child.  Loss of childcare can interfere with employment or schooling, which further endangers a mother’s ability to provide for her child.

That was the thinking behind The Junior League’s partnership with Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies Every Little Bottom program, which aims to achieve 22.5 million diaper donations to diaper banks for eligible mothers around the country.

The Junior League’s goal for Huggies Every Little Bottom is to hand off the program to individual Leagues to implement in their own communities, leveraging the power of our 160,000 volunteer members in the U.S., Canada, the UK and Mexico.  So far, in only a few months, nearly 40 Leagues have taken up the cause, including communities as diverse as the Junior League of Stamford-Norwalk and the Junior League of Edmonton.  JLSN welcomed the program as a valuable add-on to its own diaper bank and JLE will hold a number of community-based diaper drives within the city to help raise awareness of the issue of diaper need and help close the diaper gap.

But healthy children have been a goal of The Junior League since its founding 110 years ago.
In the depths of the Great Depression, Junior Leaguers responded by opening nutrition centers and milk stations for women caring for their babies.  They operated baby clinics and day nurseries for working mothers as well as birth control clinics and training schools for nurses.

That tradition continues today with the more than 160,000 members of 292 Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the UK and the U.S.  Some examples:

The Junior League of Chattanooga’s Healthy Starts: Baby Basics partnership with READ (Reading Education for Adult Development of Chattanooga) helps low-income expecting mothers learn how to care and advocate for themselves and their unborn babies. The program begins with Baby Basics, a prenatal health literacy program created by The What To Expect Foundation, and continues with a volunteer mentorship program called Pregnancy Pals.

Families Can’t Wait, a hospital-based, primary-prevention plan for at-risk mothers, is a collaborative project of the Junior League of Monroe and Families Helping Families.  It provides first-time mothers and mothers of infants in neonatal intensive care with a volunteer mentor – also a mother – who makes contact with mothers while still in the hospital and provides them with support for at least three months. The goal is to have a positive impact on the health of infants and help families avoid falling into negative patterns associated with child abuse.

The Junior League of Dayton’s POWER: Injury Prevention Team empowers children and families to lead safe and healthy lives through Safe-Baby Workshops for pregnant teens and new teenage mothers to teach them how to make safe choices and keep babies out of danger.  JLD’s POWER (Program of Wellness Education and Resources) is a children’s advocacy partnership with the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton, with sponsorship by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. POWER provides broad community outreach of health and wellness, safety, prevention, and nutrition programs to children and families throughout the Miami Valley.