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Drive to help families in need in Ventura County gives out its millionth diaper

A diaper bank which helps familes in need in Ventura County has given out its millionth diaper.
A diaper bank which helps families in need in Ventura County has given out its millionth diaper.

Grass roots campaign uses donations to give out about 25,000-30,000 diapers a month.

Imagine what it would be like if you were a parent, and you couldn’t afford something as basic as diapers for your infant.

Thousands of families in the Tri-Counties face that situation every day.

In Ventura County, a grass roots non-profit, the Conejo Community Outreach Diaper Bank, has been trying to tackle that problem. For five years, it’s been helping local families in need with free diapers.

"We provide what we call supplemental packages of diapers and wipes," said Jess Weihe, who is is one of the founders of the project.

"That's about 25,000-30,000 diapers a month." She says what started as a modest campaign by a group of volunteers five years ago has just given out its millionth diaper. A group of volunteers involved with the program gathered Tuesday to celebrate the milestone.

She’s about as all in as you can get with the project. She’s a mom. Her Newbury Park home doubles as the distribution and storage hub for the diapers.

The diaper program’s volunteers say many people are shocked to learn there’s such a great need for diapers in the county, and that thousands of families simply can’t afford them.

"A lot of times we think of this as a more affluent community, but there a lot of people who are struggling," said volunteer Rena Robles, who is in a storage shed, checking to see what they have on hand.

The non-profit figures in addition to the million diapers its distributed, it’s given out about two million baby wipes.

Diane McKay is with the Conejo Valley based non-profit group Safe Passages, which helps get the diapers to families which need them.

"It's shocking, for someone who grew up here in Thousand Oaks, to think that in the region, 25% of the people are food insecure, and you can imagine how that trickles down to diapers," said McKay.

The program relies on the community for support. Weihe said it takes about $6,000-$7000 a month to keep the program in diapers and baby wipes. Some people and groups donate money, while others buy and contribute boxes of diapers.

Volunteers say the hardest part about the program is having to say no. With requests for help rising, they simply have to say no sometimes, because they don’t have enough diapers to meet the demand.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.