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Iowa Diaper Drive

“We decided we should do this as three courts. We do a lot as three courts,” Gin Wilgenbusch, St. Francis 774, says. Teaming up with Holy Cross 881 and Sts. Peter and Paul 1709, St. Francis 774 hosted the event on a Wednesday night at St. Joseph Catholic Church. But many Wednesdays went into planning this event. 

A couple years ago, Carrie Klein, Sts. Peter and Paul 1709, was looking for a 4H service project. She began cutting T-shirts, asked her youth group to help, and spread the word via Facebook. After a request for T-shirts from the community, the group got more than it anticipated. “People do respond,” Former VHCR Eldon Wilgenbusch said.

Carrie’s mother, Julie Klein, Sts. Peter and Paul 1709, explains how the project grew: “We did it here, and next year our local 4H club is going to do it.” And they’ll likely have plenty of shirts! At the time of this October event, many shirts remained in storage at a local school. 

One shirt makes anywhere between three and six diapers; the amount depends on the size of the shirt. Because of the material, not every shirt can be used to make diapers. To pay it forward, they donate those shirts, instead of throwing them away. Flannel or terry cloth fabrics are used for the soaker pad, because those materials are more absorbent than cotton. An elastic edge is sewn on and a Velcro strap is added to make the diapers versatile for different ages. (Watch the video on our YouTube page to see the finished product!)

The diapers are shipped to Haiti where mothers sew and sell them to make a living. Through the generosity of Julie’s employer, the group is able to ship the boxes at a discounted rate of more than 50%. “In the states, we are so blessed. We don’t even think about [how] kids don’t even have diapers,” Julie says.

One volunteer, Melita Pfeiler, Holy Cross 881, has sewn 7,000 diapers, which were shipped to Nicaragua for mothers and children. Another volunteer, Donna Cota of Sts. Peter and Paul 1709, is a retired nurse who visits Haiti annually. “They do immunizations…down there for one or two weeks,” Julie explains.

“We work well together!” Gin says of partnering with Holy Cross 881 and Sts. Peter and Paul 1709. “So many things we’ve done have mushroomed. A gal works at a middle school in Dubuque, and she wants to do this with her students!”

Article by Katlyn Gerken.

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