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Shawnee library hosts baby products giveaway events for new and expecting parents

A stack of diapers next to a small baby bottle filled with milk

A Louisville initiative called Neighborhood Nest taking place at the public library’s Shawnee Branch on select Thursdays and Saturdays through March could help offer families some help with the expenses that come with having a baby.

The effort is in collaboration with the Louisville Metro’s Center for Health Equity and other community organizations. It aims to provide expecting or recent parents and caregivers with essential products for free.

Residents will be able to pick up items like menstrual products, formula, diapers and wipes. They’ll also have access to family planning and early childhood resources.

Paul Burns, communications director for the Louisville Free Public Library, said not being able to afford basic needs like diapers can disrupt families’ lives.

“This program started out of our librarians’ desire to find out what the needs were in the community,” Burns said. “Louisville is 3 million diapers short, basically, of meeting the needs of young children in our community.”

Inflation has driven up the cost of necessities, including pregnancy and postpartum care products. Items like diapers and personal hygiene products are also not covered by most federal benefits programs, which makes affording them difficult for low-income parents trying to care for their childrens’ needs as well as their own. The one assistance program that allows for funds to be used toward diapers is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, a limited monthly allowance that also covers rent, transportation and utility costs.

“If you don't have diapers, kids can't go to daycare and, if kids can't go to daycare, parents can't go to work,” Burns said. “It's an essential part of the infrastructure of our society working and so the library wanted to help provide access for that”.

According to the National Diaper Network, a nonprofit that aims to bridge the diaper gap, about a third of U.S. families struggle to afford them, which could detrimentally affect their lives. The nonprofit reported more than half of U.S. parents who can’t afford diapers miss an average of four school or work days a year.

Neighborhood Nest events are open to the whole family and will include storytimes as well as activities for youth in kindergarten through fifth grade. Burns said supplies will be limited per person to ensure there’s enough to go around and called on residents to support the effort, if they have the capacity to.

“We gave out about 1,800 diapers at our last Neighborhood Nest, and served about 40 people. We still have more coming in. But donations are always welcome,” Burns said.

The next event in the series is taking place Thursday from 2-5 p.m. at the Louisville Free Public Library’s Shawnee Branch. Here’s a list of all upcoming Neighborhood Nest dates and times:

  • Thursday, Jan. 19, from 2-5 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 4, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, Feb. 9 from 2-5 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 4, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 9, from 2-5 p.m.

Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.

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