Mom collects over 7,000 diapers in daughter's memory as diaper need increases during pandemic

A mom in Texas has collected over 7,000 diapers for a local nonprofit organization as the need for diapers continues to grow amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Christy Payne lost her two oldest daughters in a car crash in 2019.

Payne and her surviving daughter, Sarah, 16, decided this year to celebrate the March 1 birthday of her oldest daughter, Ella, who was 18 when she died, by making a donation to Ella’s favorite charity, Youth For Christ’s Parent Life program, which provides support for teen parents and expectant teen parents in Lubbock, Texas.

“I messaged them and said I wanted to do something for Ella and [the director of the Parent Life program] replied immediately, ‘diaper drive,’ because that’s what they needed,” Payne told “Good Morning America.” “I just said, ‘Let me know what sizes you need.'”

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Since that initial conversation in late February, Payne and Sarah have collected more than 7,000 diapers and donated them to the Parent Life Program. The mother-daughter duo donated some of the diapers on their own and also organized a diaper drop-off program and raised hundreds of dollars to purchase diapers.

PHOTO: Christy Payne and her daughter Sarah pose with some of the more than 7,000 diapers donated thanks to their efforts.

“After the accident, one of my friends said [my daughters] didn’t just create ripples, they created waves in making a difference in other people’s lives,” said Payne, who launched an initiative, Wavemakers Wednesday, that encourages people to do good deeds for others. “This diaper drive was just an extra way to keep my girls’ waves moving forward.”

PHOTO: Christy Payne, bottom left, poses with her family on a hike shortly before her two oldest daughters died in a car crash.

The diaper drive was invaluable for Parent Life, which faced a shortage of diapers to distribute to the people it serves, according to Renee Morales, Parent Life’s program director.

“Diapers are always a need at Parent Life and definitely more so during the pandemic,” Morales told “GMA.” “Diaper need is a huge problem in the U.S. that many are not aware of.”

“Families oftentimes have to choose between buying food or diapers so they may end up leaving diapers on longer to make them last longer, which poses poses healthy risks for the babies,” she said. “Also, many day cares require parents to leave a certain amount of diapers each day which can also be a big burden on parents who are working minimum wage paying jobs that barely cover their bills.”

PHOTO: Youth For Christ's Parent Life Program in Lubbock, Texas, received thousands of diapers thanks to a donation drive led by Christy Payne.

The diaper need is a national problem, with one in three families in the United States experiencing it, according to the National Diaper Bank Network, a nonprofit organization that works to end diaper need in the U.S.

Disposable diapers can cost as much as $80 per month per baby, a cost not covered by most public aid programs and and a cost out of reach for many families, especially those who have experienced job loss or other financial hardships during the pandemic, according to Joanne Samuel Goldblum, National Diaper Bank Network’s founder and CEO.

“One of the things we know about diaper need is that it exists everywhere,” she said. “There’s not a single state in the country, there’s not a single place in any state where it doesn’t exist.”

Goldblum noted that all of the more than 200 organizations supported by the National Diaper Bank Network have seen the need for diapers increase, some by as much as 600%, during the pandemic. Last year, the network distributed more than 100 million diapers to more than 240 diaper banks across the country.

“Keep in mind that diaper banks couldn’t meet the full need prior to COVID,” said Goldblum. “Diapers are a window into poverty and for people to think about how difficult it is for families when they can’t meet their basic needs, and I think COVID has really shone a light on that.”

The one-year expansion of the child tax credit to American families included in the , American Rescue Plan, signed into law Thursday by President Joe Biden, is expected to put some extra money in parents’ pockets to cover basic needs like diapers, advocates say.

The law also gives $150 million in emergency aid to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which offers support to at-risk pregnant women and families.

Advocates are also calling on Congress to pass the End Diaper Need Act of 2021, which has been introduced in both the House and Senate and would provide funding for diapers and supplies through the Social Services Block Grant program.

Goldblum said individual and corporate donations to diaper banks are also critical, both in meeting the need for diapers and raising awareness.

“This mom raised over 7,000 diapers, which is amazing, but she also has raised a lot of awareness and more people are going to be aware of the issue because of what she did,” Goldblum said, referring to Payne. “Each time somebody does something like what this mom did, you’re telling other people about the problem.”

“That’s a really important thing for people to know, that one person can make that difference,” she added.

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