Detroiter gives thousands of diapers out to struggling families

posted in: 2021 | 0

Tamra Chambers has two kids in diapers. She’s working reduced hours at her hospitality job. Her paycheck is a fraction of what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So when she drives up to a truck outside a community center in Detroit to pick up diapers for her two babies — Coryn and Levi — nestled in the back seat of her car, it’s a weight off the 31-year-old mom’s shoulders. 

“It’s just a major help. I don’t have to worry about choosing between diapers or bills, you know? My babies, they have diapers and I’m able to spend that money — the probably $100 a month that I would be spending — I can spend that on groceries or bills,” said Chambers, a mom of three living in Detroit. 

On a December afternoon, she was one of about 100 people who drove up to the parking lot at St. Suzanne Cody Rouge Community Resource Center on Detroit’s west side to pick up diapers, wipes and menstrual pads. 

A line of cars wrapped around a corner. One by one, people drove up to a U-Haul truck where a team of four from the Metropolitan Detroit Diaper Bank and youth group Young Men-N-Motion lugged diapers into trunks from a pile stacked high. 

They checked names off a list detailing what each person had signed up for,. 

The drive-thru is one of several free pickups in a given month. There are 14 sites, and weekly deliveries, all across metro Detroit. That’s thousands of diapers to families. Before the pandemic, it took place inside.

It’s an efficient operation. And behind it all — Veronica Claybrone.  

The 71-year-old Detroiter is the founder and director of the Metropolitan Detroit Diaper Bank. Claybrone said she started the nonprofit a few years after she retired 15 years ago. 

She began volunteering at her church. Every month, she would drive to Canton and bring in diapers from a diaper bank there to her church community. Eventually, after that resource was no longer available, she launched her own Detroit-based effort in 2016. 

“Baby only has three basic needs: milk, love and diapers,” she said. 

Diaper need is dire in Detroit and it’s only been amplified by the economic upheaval of the pandemic, she said. Thirty five percent of Detroiters live in poverty, according to 2019 census data. Even before the pandemic, 1 in 3 U.S. families couldn’t afford diapers, the National Diaper Bank Network reported

Last year, the Metropolitan Detroit Diaper Bank reached a major milestone: more than 1 million diapers delivered to families. That’s a jump from about 500,000 in 2019. A big part of that was the need during the health crisis as people faced joblessness, plus donations that poured in to ramp up efforts. 

Claybrone already placed an order for the new year — 148,000 diapers from one shipment. And even that, she suspects, will not be enough. 

“It’s not a whole lot of diapers,” she said. Ever since the pandemic hit, the diaper bank has been giving away about 100 diapers per child, as opposed to 50. 

The 10-person organization is direct service, meaning people sign up for what they need and the organization tries to meet those needs. She describes the nonprofit as a resource, not a referral agency. 

Claybrone herself picks up calls: “This is the Metropolitan Detroit Diaper Bank. How may I help you?” she says one Wednesday. She tells the caller that an upcoming pickup is still scheduled to take place. 

Her mission is to ensure that every baby and senior is clean, healthy and dry.

“I just think the need can be eradicated. We just have to get the word to the right people that have the dollars,” she said. 

For Chambers, who had her son in January while still furloughed and struggled to buy diapers, the pickups are a welcome relief during a rough spot in life. It’s a chance to buy gifts during the holiday season.

She’s grateful for the monthly reminders she gets, too. 

“It’s such a big help to me and it makes me feel good,” she said. “They understand that it’s not like a one-time need. It’s something that’s an ongoing necessity.”


Priority Health extends its support to provide diapers and infant sleep sacks to Metro Detroit families

(Grand Rapids, Mich. – October 1, 2021) Priority Health, Michigan’s fastest growing health plan, announces that it is extending its support of the Metropolitan Detroit Diaper Bank (MDDB) through the month of October, donating an additional 90,000 diapers to families in need. Further, Priority Health is donating 900 sleep sacks to the MDDB to encourage safe sleep practices and raise awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Since September, Priority Health has partnered with the MDDB and has already distributed 90,000 diapers to Metro Detroit families in need.

October is Safe Sleep and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. According to the CDC, nearly 3,400 babies in the United States die unexpectedly each year, and these deaths often happen during sleep or in a baby’s sleep area. The use of blankets is not recommended for babies less than a year old due to the risk of SIDS. Sleep sacks are encouraged as the better, safer alternative for keeping infants warm. 

“We are happy to continue providing diapers for families in Southeast Michigan and are grateful for partners like the Metropolitan Detroit Diaper Bank and the work they do to support our communities,” said Shannon Wilson, Vice President, State Markets East at Priority Health. “Infant health is a priority for us, and we’re thankful for this opportunity to not only bring awareness to safe sleep practices, but also provide resources for families to keep the most vulnerable members of our community protected.”

Each month, parents can make a request for diapers via the Metropolitan Detroit Diaper Bank’s online form and select a specific pickup location, date and time. Families can also request a sleep sack at any of the MDDB’s 13 distribution sites throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Please see the MDDB website for more information.  

Priority Health remains steadfast in its commitment to help improve the health and wellbeing of local communities. Previously, Priority Health supported the Battle Creek Family YMCA and St. Luke’s Diaper Bank to distribute nearly 240,000 diapers to families throughout Southwest Michigan.

About Priority Health:

With over 30 years in business, Priority Health is the second largest health plan in Michigan, offering a broad portfolio of health benefits options for employer groups and individuals, including Medicare and Medicaid plans. Serving more than a million members each year and offering a broad network of primary care physicians in Michigan, Priority Health continues to be recognized as a leader for quality, customer service, transparency and product innovation. Learn more about affordable, quality health coverage options from Priority Health.