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Why Low-Income Parents End Up Paying More For Diapers

Diapers Etc. hands out around 10,000 to 12,000 diapers per month to families in need, for free. For those families on the financial edge, the necessary baby-care staple would be a crippling cost otherwise.

Last month, 600 people came through the door of the Far East Dallas nonprofit."There's been tears of despair, of folks who just feel like they have let their kids down, that they don't know how to make ends meet to take care of the kids that they love," co-founder Justin Barringer diaper raw material

He runs the diaper pantry out of an old church. On distribution day, parents get 50 diapers per kid. That will last a typical toddler a week.Erica O'Brien of East Dallas visits Diapers Etc. on the last Saturday of every month. She's mom to two kids — 8-year-old Colton and 16-month-old Skylar.

She also works as a teacher's assistant at a nearby elementary school. Right now she has a job and her husband doesn't. The $1,500 a month she brings home has to cover all four of them.

"It's very difficult for rent and all the bills and everything," she says. "It's living pretty much paycheck to paycheck right now."

Parents of children who aren't yet potty-trained will tell you: One of the biggest headaches is paying for diapers. Kids grow, so they always need the next size up. And don't forget about baby wipes.One-year-old Skylar still needs six or seven disposable diapers a day. O'Brien says she's come very close to running out.

"I have actually gotten down to like one diaper left for her, and there was still, like, another week before I could go get diapers."

On that day, a friend fronted her some — and said not to worry about paying her back.When O'Brien does buy diapers, she can't afford very many at a time. That costs.

"I mean, it's like a package of 25 for like $11, or a box of 100-and-something for less than $20," she says. "So you end up having to pay a lot more having to buy the little packages."Barringer gets his diapers from Hope Supply Company, which funnels baby essentials to nonprofits throughout North Texas. CEO Barbara Johnson echoes what mom Erica O'Brien said about the challenges of buying enough diapers at a time.

"A wealthier family can buy in bulk," Johnson says. "They can go to Sam's, they can go to Costco and they can buy at a better price than a poor family that has to go to the 7-Eleven to pick up a few diapers."

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