Story by Leigh Calfee
(SNR) – Kay Wessel has been collecting diapers for mothers and babies in the Diocese of Lincoln for nine years. What began as a suggestion from a priest in the diocese has expanded into a program that has collected thousands of diapers for women in need, and their babies, over the past nine years.
Wessel began collecting diapers through the Lincoln Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. The organization participates in projects that fulfill the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, as outlined by the Church.
In 2010, the LDCCW agreed to sponsor the annual diaper drive, and Wessel works closely with a coordinator from each deanery to promote the event and collect diapers during the month of October.
Once diapers are collected by each deanery representative, Wessel and her husband drive to various locations across the diocese to transport diapers back to Lincoln, where they are distributed to organizations like Catholic Social Services, St. Gianna’s Women’s Homes and Birthright.
In places like Imperial, Auburn and Hastings, the diapers collected are donated directly to local Catholic Social Services branches, or to approved, pro-life organizations like Wellspring Pregnancy & Health Center in Hastings.
Over the years, Wessel has come to rely heavily on the coordinators from the 13 deaneries. Coordinators ensure weekly bulletin announcements promote the event in each parish, and they also count the diapers collected at the end of each annual diaper drive.
“We would not be successful without the coordinators in the 13 deaneries,” Wessel said.
Practically speaking, Wessel has had questions over the years about things like cloth diapers. While she understands the environmental concerns some people have with disposable diapers, she said economically-challenged mothers often have no way to properly care for or sanitize cloth diapers. For this reason, the LDCCW drive focuses on disposable diapers. Wessel also said donations of larger-sized diapers (sizes five and six) are often the most needed.
Wessel has seen, first hand, the difference diapers can make for women in need. As a Birthright volunteer, Wessel said mothers often stop by with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
When they do, Wessel said, “We have diapers to give them to meet their immediate need.”
She has had similar experiences at the Catholic Social Services office in Lincoln.
The goal for 2018 is to collect 90,000 diapers to serve women and children across the diocese. Wessel is still accepting cash donations, which she uses to purchase diapers for CSS and other approved, pro-life organizations. If you would like to make a cash donation to the LDCCW Diaper Drive, please makes checks payable to the Lincoln Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and send them to Kay Wessel at 3600 West Wittstruck Rd., Martell, NE 68404.