DiaperLove of Bradley County, a new program founded locally by Cleveland business and civic leader Brenda Lawson where moms help moms in need, has announced its board of directors.
The group of volunteers is already gearing up for an array of community drives and initiatives.
The nonprofit organization’s board includes Brenda Lawson, chairman and founder of the Bradley County chapter, Zandra Whaley, Evie West, Sandra Rowland, Traci Hamilton, Debbie Melton, Janey Cooke, Bernadette DePrez, Christy Griffith and Mary Hixson.
Board members are organizing a “blitz campaign” to spread the word about the need for diapers in the Cleveland and Bradley County community.
Through Lawson’s insight and early efforts, the local chapter has already blossomed into a board of caring moms who share the same passion — to help other moms in a time of need with a gift as simple as a package of diapers.
“I am very excited about the future of this organization and the impact it will have on our community,” Lawson said.
DiaperLove of Bradley County distributes its diapers through The Caring Place, located on Wildwood Avenue.
Originating in Knoxville in 2008, DiaperLove began when a need was recognized through an appeal made on Craigslist.
“It was a simple appeal for help, but it brought to realization that there are children everywhere in need,” Lawson explained. “Many of them often spend days in the same soiled diaper which can lead to serious emotional distress and health problems.”
Many organizations exist to feed, clothe, heal and house children, but a major void exists in meeting the basic, fundamental hygienic need for an adequate supply of diapers, the program’s Cleveland founder cited.
DiaperLove fills this growing service gap to make diapers available to struggling families, Lawson said.
DiaperLove’s mission is to not only change diapers, but to change lives by providing diapers to children and families in need by showing them God’s love in action.
“Part of the mission of DiaperLove is to encourage paying it forward,” Lawson cited. “These boxes of diapers are not handouts. They are a hand UP ... to lift someone up in a difficult time, helping out when it's our turn to help out.”
Lawson said she became aware of the Knoxville-based program and brought it to Cleveland, offering diapers in a close-knit partnership with The Caring Place.
“In just a few short months, we had distributed more than 16,000 diapers in our Cleveland and Bradley County community,” Lawson pointed out.
“That’s when I knew I needed help, so we formed a board of ambitious, caring and enthusiastic women to help carry out the mission.”
She noted the mission is to provide diapers to help change diapers and lives in Cleveland, but she also noted there is much to be done in the area of public awareness.
“For example, Food Stamps and WIC do not provide for diapers or wipes, so many families go without these items,” Lawson explained. “Something needs to change on a state and national level to help families with this problem.”
She added, “That change is you.”
To begin collecting more diapers and increase public awareness, DiaperLove of Bradley County is placing DiaperLove collection boxes in several locations in Cleveland including: Don Ledford Automotive Center on North Lee Highway, Cooke’s Food Store, all area Super Savers and all Bank of Cleveland locations. The most requested diaper sizes are 3-6, but all sizes are needed.
DiaperLove collection boxes also will be placed at local events. Board members Debbie Melton, Christy Griffith and Traci Hamilton are working with local high schools to collect diapers at upcoming sporting events and create friendly competition among the students and fans.
“The local high school diaper drive competition is close at hand,” Melton said. “Competition among Walker Valley, Bradley Central and Cleveland High schools will take place Oct. 15-27. A traveling DiaperLove Championship Trophy will be given to the school collecting the most diapers during this time.”
DiaperLove collection boxes will be located at the Bradley Central High School vs. Cleveland High School football game on Oct. 19 at BCHS. Collection boxes also will be placed at Walker Valley High School when the Mustangs take on Ooltewah on Oct. 26. Students and spectators attending the games will be asked to bring diapers and drop them in the boxes which will be positioned at the entrance gates.
DiaperLove collection boxes also will be set up at the Mix 104.1 booth at the Cleveland Apple Festival on Oct. 20 in downtown Cleveland, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The weekend of Oct. 18-20 has been scheduled as a Big Orange and Crimson Autumn Weekend at Spring Creek Town Center located at 25th Street/APD 40. A live radio show with Bridget Forrester will be held Oct. 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with listeners encouraged to bring diapers to the DiaperLove collection boxes at Spring Creek during the weekend’s events.
On Oct. 27, a DiaperLove collection box will also be set up in downtown Cleveland during the Mainstreet Cruise-In from 3 to 6 p.m.
“We are careful stewards of our resources and also want to be sure we are meeting the needs of the families with appropriately sized diapers,” Lawson said. “The Caring Place does a great job handing out diapers to families in need. By doing this, it is our goal to change lives, one diaper at a time.”
The Cleveland civic servant added, “Just this week, we learned of a chemical explosion in Japan that destroyed a production plant that provides chemicals for more than 20 percent of the disposable diapers produced around the world. This could mean a diaper shortage in the future.”
For more information about DiaperLove of Bradley County, check out the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/diaperlovebc. Facebook page visitors are encouraged “... to share our posts, send us ideas and tell us your stories.”
Monetary donations are accepted. Donations may be mailed to DiaperLove of Bradley County, P.O. Box 2370, Cleveland, TN 37320-2370 or by calling 423-476-2140.
Any club or organization desiring a drop [collection] box may also call 476-2140 for more information.