By Kelly Dickey
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON -- It’s not every day struggling parents can get free diapers, but if SuzieDee Pardue gets her way, maybe they will someday.
For now, Pardue and the Christ Lutheran Church are offering free diapers and wipes to parents in need every third Tuesday of the month.
“We have families making the choice between food and diapers,” she said, “and we know which one is going to lose.”
To make that choice a little easier, Pardue helped create The Baby Corner, a ministry aimed at helping struggling parents by offering a little bit of relief. Each month, parents can come to 2751 N. Scatterfield Road and get a small supply of diapers.
There isn’t a set limit to how many each child will get, but the ministry tries to be fair on distribution day, especially since they don’t turn away anyone in need. More than once, The Baby Corner has run out of supplies, so volunteers have gone out to buy diapers out of pocket.
It’s a problem Pardue hopes will change soon.
The ministry was awarded a $5,000 grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The Baby Corner will receive an additional $5,000 if it raises $10,000 by March 31.
So far, The Baby Corner has raised $6,500, Pardue said.
“We’re not there, trust me,” she said. “We’re a small church but we’re kicking right along, let me tell ya.”
One way to help raise money is through a “Bounce For Babies” event on Wednesday at Sky Zone in Fishers. If people mention The Baby Corner at the trampoline park from 3 to 8 p.m., a portion of the admission will go toward the ministry.
Pardue doesn’t doubt the church will raise the money. It takes a community to raise a baby, and she believes Anderson residents will help.
The tough economy has put a lot of parents in a state of despair, Pardue said. Single parents, working parents, students and people from all walks of life need help.
Stephany Finney didn’t think she would ever need help. She had a son with her longtime boyfriend, a baby girl on the way and was making good money at her job at Sallie Mae. But during her pregnancy, she got word that her job had been eliminated.
Finney never expected to be out of work. She was educated and had a well paying job, but she found herself becoming familiar with resources like Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help provide for her family.
It was at the WIC office where she found a flier for free diapers. She became a familiar face at The Baby Corner and now helps on distribution day.
Finney said a lot of parents are embarrassed because of the misconception that people who need assistance don’t want to work. While there are a few bad apples in every group, she said, the majority of people are looking for or already have jobs.
“It’s the working American coming in that needs help now,” she said.
The mother of two now has a new success story. After she lost her job she started Central Indiana Mothers, a nonprofit organization that offers information about anything parents need, from government assistance guidance to planning playdates.
She often works with The Baby Corner, especially since programs such as WIC and SNAP don’t cover diaper costs.
Working parents also struggle with day care. Even if they can manage to afford it, parents have to supply disposable diapers in advance.
When they do manage to get some extra cash, they often make the difficult choice to buy more food since diapers only supplement one member of the family.
But doing that can have consequences.
Lori Carr, a CPNP at St. John’s Children’s Clinic, said there are health risks to children who don’t get their diapers changed often enough. Rashes are common, but the cause can be from allergic irritation, contact dermatitis or a fungal infection.
“The rash is painful to the little ones and sometimes it can spread,” Carr said.
Regular dermatitis will go away with over-the-counter medicine, Carr said, but a fungal infection won’t go away untreated. If parents don’t get medical attention, then it could spread to other areas and will become much more painful.
Pardue said she works in the lab at St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital and often sees parents bring their children in with severe diaper rashes.
Although Carr said she can’t tell if rashes are caused by parents not changing their diapers or something more, Pardue said a lot of the parents can’t afford diapers so she directs them to The Baby Corner.
“We’re trying to fill a need and that’s basically why we’re here, is to fill that need,” Pardue said. “And you kind of feel like sometimes you have your finger in the dam and you have to hold it there.”
The Baby Corner has already grown tremendously.
What started out as helping a few members of the Christ Lutheran Church 14 months ago has turned into a full-blown operation.
If The Baby Corner raises its money by the end of March, it will help get closer to Pardue’s next goal.
Soon, she wants to open The Baby Corner twice a month, then move toward making it a weekly event and eventually a daily operation that will offer other resources like dietary classes and babysitters.
But in the meantime, The Baby Corner is determined to supply diapers to as many babies as possible.
“We’re here,” Pardue said. “We’re not going anywhere.”
For information on donating or receiving donations, go to facebook.com/ChristLutheranBabyCorner or christlutherananderson.org.
Like Kelly Dickey on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KellyD_THB, or call 640-4805.
If you go... The Baby Corner offers a limited number of free diapers and wipes to families in need 2 to 6 p.m. every third Tuesday of the month at Christ Lutheran Church, 2751 N. Scatterfield Road. For information on donating or receiving supplies, go to facebook.com/ChristLutheranBabyCorner or christlutherananderson.org. The Baby Corner is hosting "Bounce For Babies" from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Sky Zone, 10080 E. 121st St. No. 182, Fishers.