Every Wednesday, Terry Jaworski and other volunteers hand out diapers for two hours out of the former Sullivan’s Food Store on Elm Street in McHenry.
Volunteers, wearing coats because the building doesn’t have heat, have shelves with different sizes of diapers on each.
When an order comes in, they go to each shelf and grab the requested amount. Sometimes, partner agencies ask for more than is in stock, and the volunteers have to do what they can to give them part of the requested amount.
The adult and child diapers eventually go to needy families.
“You really feel good about ... helping them in a trying situation,” Jaworski said.
Jaworski, a Harvard resident, is a volunteer with the Diaper Bank of Northern Illinois.
She helps distribute diapers to organizations that help families with young children.
The diaper bank was started in December 2009 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in McHenry.
“They asked for volunteers to help stack some diapers,” Jaworski said. “I went over there and with some other women and we were doing that.”
Jaworski said when her daughter was 2 years old, she had lost her job and her husband’s business had failed.
“Our daughter was still in diapers, I know the feeling,” Jaworski said. “That’s why when this started it was appealing to me. We would be helping mothers and babies who were under the same stress I had been under.”
The diaper bank works with four to five groups every Wednesday, and gives out 16,000 to 20,000 children and adult diapers every month. In total, the diaper bank has 14 partner agencies, including the FISH of McHenry Food Pantry, Faith in Action, Senior Service Associates and the Grafton Township Food Pantry.
“Many times, people that pick up diapers also receive them,” Jaworski said.
She said she has met clients who have had to use diapers from the diaper bank.
There are times people don’t have time to go to a food pantry and pick up diapers.
“Some people fall through and can’t get diapers,” Jaworski said.
It can be especially stressful around the holidays.
“Like at Christmas when you need diapers right then and there, we give them so many diapers to last them until they can get to some place,” Jaworski said.
When a family needs diapers, it can be difficult.
“A kid in a wet diaper, the kid is crying, there’s enough stress as it is,” Jaworski said. “You don’t know how you’re going to keep them clean.”
Jaworski said the diaper bank is able to stock its shelves because of financial donations, which allow the organization to purchase diapers.
There also are drop-off sites, and people from time to time hold diaper drives.
Alan Robel, who is a part of St. Paul’s Episcopal, said Jaworski is the “driving force” behind the diaper distribution to the partner agencies.
“She is the person that makes sure that all our partners get the diapers they so desperately need,” Robel wrote in an email to the Northwest Herald.