A toast to Bottoms Up, which serves an important, but unheralded, need

diaper bank

Bottoms Up Diaper Bank’s 3rd annual World’s Largest Diaper Drive in May collected a record 762,000 packages of diapers. That’s quite a jump from the non-profit organization’s humble start in Lancaster on Tim and Jo Welsh’s 40th wedding anniversary five years ago, when they decided to donate a box of diapers for each year of their marriage and then more than doubled their goal.

For Welsh, with a career in non-profit organizations that focus on single mothers, organizing Bottoms Up later in 2018 was a natural next step. In the five years since then, the organization has expanded beyond Fairfield and Franklin counties to include more than 20 counties (mostly in Central and Southern Ohio, but some in the northwestern part of the state) and six storage sites to serve the regions.

“Diapers are terribly expensive, and the need for them is great,” Welsh said, noting a litany of relevant details:
  • There are 9.6 million single mothers in the U.S. and 2.9 million of them live in poverty.
  • Medicaid covers about 47 percent of all births in the U.S., yet no government program provides diapers as a basic need for babies.
  • One in three American moms have trouble meeting their need for diapers.
  • Child-care facilities and early-childhood-education programs expect parents to provide diapers when their kids attend.

Tim and Jo Welsh stress that the annual diaper drive has three goals: to raise awareness of the need for diaper; to collect as many diapers as they can; and to raise funds. In addition to the 762,000 collected in May, Bottom Up also raised $250,000 for more diapers.

“The drive has increased awareness, but awareness of Bottoms Up is secondary to diaper need,” Tim said.

It even has boosted national awareness: The World’s Largest Diaper Drive expanded last year beyond Bottoms Up – and this year it was joined by diaper banks and other groups in 10 states across the country, from New York and Florida to California and Washington. Plans already are emerging for the 2024 drive.

Bottoms Up operates under a credo often cited by charitable organizations. “We have mentality here,” Tim said, “that if you chase the heart, the money will come; if you chase money, the dollars will flee.” The heart of the fundraising and diaper-collection efforts, he said, is churches.

“The sweet spot for drives is churches and schools,” he said, because such institutions are at the front line of providing services to harried families that may have trouble buying enough diapers. “We’re breeding a whole generation of awareness of diaper need.”

Since 2018, Bottoms Up has delivered more than 3 million diapers to over 70 food pantries and childcare facilities in almost one-quarter, of the state – ensuring that families have access to diapers they need to keep their children clean, dry, and healthy.

On the Bottoms Up website, Jo Welsh is the face of the organization. The website, at https://www.bottomsup.life/, has plenty of information with clickable buttons for those who want to donate diapers, donate money, or hold a diaper drive. The site is designed and donated by Web Chick, who often donates her services to public-service organizations.