Traci Hamilton, January program chairperson, introduced Lawson as someone who gives from the heart.
“She loves children and feels an extreme need to help those who are in need,” Hamilton said.
Lawson’s most recent effort to offer aid grew into DiaperLove of Bradley County. She witnessed the program in action while working in Knoxville and felt Bradley County could benefit likewise. Friends and associates encouraged her to run DiaperLove through The Caring Place on Wildwood Avenue.
“We purchase the diapers, or take donations, and we give them to The Caring Place,” Lawson said. “The Caring Place screens families and disperses the diapers.”
According to Lawson, on average a baby goes through 12 diapers a day. A toddler uses up to eight per day. She shared stories of mothers trying to make due without purchasing more. One baby’s disposable diaper dragged along the ground due to a recent rinsing.
A DiaperLove fact sheet claimed 1 in 3 American moms struggle to afford diapers. Lawson said an adequate supply of diapers often costs over $100 a month. In addition, one in 20 struggling moms have cleaned out and reused wet or soiled disposable diapers. The effects of reusing diapers are both emotional and physical, according to Lawson.
There is a need in Bradley County for diapers, Lawson said. DiaperLove purchases the diapers at wholesale prices from local merchants and through national resources. Cleveland and Bradley County have also answered the call to donate for the cause.
Walker Valley High School, Cleveland High School and Bradley County High School competed against one another in a diaper drive. CHS won with 11,477 diapers. BCHS collected 1,152 diapers and Walker Valley gave 5,618 disposable diapers. Walker Valley later collected an additional 2,174 diapers for a total of 7,792.
Hamilton introduced the program in a one-minute speech at Cleveland’s Rotary luncheon. Lawson later received a phone call that left her momentarily speechless.
“It was Dr. Fred Garmin. He said, ‘I am with People for Care and Learning. I understand you have a program where you need diapers,’” Lawson recalled.
Continued Lawson, “And he said, ‘I have a truckload of diapers for you.’”
There were 95,396 diapers in the tractor-trailer donated by PCL. Lawson said an additional 119,152 diapers were added by the nonprofit. She said they have plenty of sizes 1 through 4 in the DiaperLove offices.
Additional donations were made by Don Ledford and Cooke’s Foodstore with 100 and 206 diapers respectively. Cooke’s Foodstore also donated a check to buy wipes and additional supplies.
Lawson said the program is in need of sizes 5 and 6.
“My dream is to change lives one diaper at a time across the nation,” Lawson said.
The board of directors include Brenda Lawson, Janey Cooke, Christy Griffith, Debbie Melton, Melissa Snyder, Evie West, Bernadette DePrez, Traci Hamilton, Sandra Rowland and Zandra Welch.
DiaperLove has greeted the new year by distributing 15,492 diapers in the first month. Donations are accepted and actively encouraged.