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Friday, April 19, 2024
UW Office of Child Care and Family Resources 1

UW Office of Child Care and Family Resources photographed on Feb. 29, 2024. 

TAA, local volunteers lead monthly diaper drive

The UW-Madison Teaching Assistants Association and Village Diaper Bank distribute 15,000 diapers to dozens of families each month.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Assistants Association (TAA), in collaboration with the Village Diaper Bank, provides diapers for approximately 50-80 families out of the Eagle Heights Community Center on the last Wednesday of each month.

“Everybody that started ordering diapers years ago continues to order until their child grows out of diapers,” said John Levine, a fourth-year medical school student and distribution volunteer. “Since we began the diaper drive, we've had a couple of kids that started as a one-year-old. Now, they’ve graduated out of diapers.”

Village Diaper Bank is a nonprofit that partners with the TAA and other community groups around Madison to provide free diapers. The Village Diaper Bank and the TAA distribute diapers in Eagle Heights at 5 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month.

Every month, Levine and other TAA members gather information from families using a survey and report to the Village Diaper Bank how many diapers they need and in what sizes. Levine then drives a TAA-funded U-Haul to transport boxes of diapers.

According to Levine, volunteers distribute 15,000 diapers per month to families. The diaper drive also coincides with Open Seat and Second Harvest Food Bank’s weekly food pantry at the Eagle Heights Community Center.

“People come here for the food pantry and the diaper drive. It's easy for them to pick up diapers and then we have a storage area if anybody's not able to make it,” Levine said.

The cost of disposable diapers for a baby’s first year is approximately $936, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Approximately half of all families struggle to afford diapers, and most public assistance benefits do not cover diapers, according to the Village Diaper Bank. 

“With our salaries as graduate workers, which is about $20,000 to $30,000 a year, having diapers provided could save a family $1,000 per kid. That's a significant amount of money for folks,” Levine said.

The diaper drive continues amid the TAA’s paid family leave campaign, which saw TAA members deliver a letter and valentines to UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin in February advocating for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Democratic state lawmakers proposed new legislation for family and medical leave on the same day.

“Graduate students have got and are getting their education, looking to take jobs, but they can't start families with how housing prices are going up, diapers being expensive and low graduate student wages, and so it's getting harder and harder,” Levine said.

A university spokesperson said in February that Mnookin is committed to offering paid parental leave and continues to work with UW System and state partners to advance the initiative.

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Noe Goldhaber

Noe Goldhaber is the college news editor and former copy chief for the Daily Cardinal. She is a statistics major and has reported on a wide range of campus issues. Follow her on Twitter at @noegoldhaber.

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