Vermillion families who struggle to afford diapers for their young children are getting the help they need through a new organization, The Evan Project.
Ellie Pyles, a Vermillion resident, has taken the lead on a local diaper bank project to help struggling families close to home. Since starting the project in October, the organization has distributed 3,500 diapers.
“Before my family moved here to Vermillion, we lived in Bloomington, IN, and there was something similar there,” Pyles said. “I just thought it was awesome.”
According to the National Diaper Bank Network, diapers cost $70 to $80 per month, and babies need diapers six to 10 times a day. For
struggling families, the cost of diapers can be a burden, but there are no direct government assistance programs that help provide diapers to low-income families.
More than 300 NDBN member diaper banks across the nation distribute about 200 million diapers to the 5.2 million children under three who live in poor or low-income families, according to NDBN.
Pyles said when her first son was born, her husband was still in school and they were struggling financially, so the diaper bank in Bloomington was a big help.
“I came here and there wasn’t anything comparable, and it had been kind of in the back of my head of something I wanted to do,” she said.
So, Pyles decided to start The Evan Project, named after her late brother.
“About two years ago, my brother had gotten sick and came to live with us and he died two years ago in September,” Pyles said. “When he died, his former partner had told me this story about how he was talking to this girl who said she had a baby and was feeling bad because she said she couldn’t afford to buy diapers. So he went to the store and got her diapers.”
Pyles said after hearing that story a “lightbulb” went off in her head.
“He didn’t have any kids of his own, so this is kind of his legacy,” she said. “So being able to do this in his memory is very meaningful to me personally.”
The First United Methodist Church in Vermillion is the location for The Evan Project. Pyles said they don’t have any income or residency eligibility requirements to get assistance.
“Folks come in, fill out the form, say what size they need and we have diaper bags already made up,” Pyles said. “So they get however many according to size, number of diapers and everybody gets a pack of wipes.”
A longterm effort
Nicole Anderson, a First United Methodist Church pastor, said she wanted the church to host the project because it was a “God-sized dream.”
“The whole part of being a Christian and being a disciple of Christ is very much rooted in community and love and compassion, and The Evan Project embodies all of that,” Anderson said.
Pyles said the project was awarded a grant from the Vermillion Area Community Foundation to help them buy diapers and wipes. They also accept donations.
“We have an Amazon wishlist where we have all of the diapers that are the very lowest cost per diaper and people order them off Amazon and it ships directly to us,” she said. “Some people prefer to go buy diapers and drop them off here or folks can write a check or donate cash.”
While this diaper bank is new and not a member of NDBN, Pyles said they hope to be one day. For now, her number one concern is to keep the organization going.
“We also want to start doing little meet-ups and calling it ‘Rock and Chat’ for caregivers of children who are in diapers to get together and share their experiences,” she said. “Also, kind of branch out to feminine care products and adult diapers.”
Pyles said they’ll be hosting a “diapers for baby Jesus” diaper drive throughout December.
Becky Hoffman, a Vermillion resident and client of the project, said finding out about The Evan Project felt like “a miracle.”
“I’m married, I have six kids, now’s a really tight time for us and we don’t like to admit that, so it was probably fantastic timing,” Hoffman said. “If you need it, you take the help when you can get it, and if you don’t then you give back.”
Pyles said Hoffman has been one of the organization’s biggest cheerleaders.
“So many people struggle, but they don’t like to admit it,” Hoffman said. “I think this is just a great project.”