The arrival of April means the arrival of the Johnson County Crisis Center ‘s “shower the crisis center” event.
Starting April 1, the Crisis Center will organize its annual baby drives to gather supplies for infants and families in need.
Jay Capron, the communications coordinator for the Crisis Center, said the center normally provides a number of services such as a food bank and crisis hotlines for residents in need.
The center’s food bank is also the largest in Johnson County, distributing around 1.2 million pounds of food a year, but in April, its focus shifts to the youngest members of the community.
“The month of April is a month we set aside to ‘shower the crisis center,’ ” he said. “Throughout the entire month, we have people set up baby drives to give diapers and other baby supplies.”
Capron said the Crisis Center has specific items they are looking to be donated at the drives, while there are other things the center can’t accept.
“We’re looking for formula, diapers, baby food, baby shampoo, lotion, powder, diaper rash cream, and unopened bottles and pacifiers,” he said. “We do not accept clothing, blankets or toys.”
Last year, the Crisis Center collected 1,802 pounds of baby products. Capron said members of the center are hoping the whole community will be willing to help out and get involved.
“We’re seeing more growth so we are seeing more need for this event,” he said. “The cost of raising a child is becoming more expensive as years go on. We’re looking for businesses and other organizations who want to host sites for drops offs. Our website has printable signs and other resources on how to organize these drives.”
Jessica Morris, the food-bank coordinator at the Crisis Center, said the event is a really important drive for the center.
“We had around 162 families each week last year requesting baby items,” she said. “It’s important because unfortunately, there isn’t really a good resource for diapers and formula in the community.”
Morris said these items can be costly for some young families.
“They’re expensive items to buy, especially if someone is living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “We don’t want people to have to choose if they are going to be able to get food for themselves or diapers for their babies. We want to have these items available for our community. This drive is so wonderful because it gives us the chance to provide these items.”
Childhood poverty in Johnson County has seen a 25.5 percent increase since the year 2000. One in 10 children in the county live beneath the poverty line according to the Kids Count report released at the beginning of this year.
Lynette Jacoby, the social services director of Johnson County, said events such “the shower” are crucial because not only do they receive items for babies, the events also raise awareness of poverty in Johnson County.
“Johnson County is often seen as a community that is well off and that we offer a high quality of living, but there’s a high disparity between those who have resources and those who don’t,” she said. “The children in poverty are sometimes invisible to the community. Having these drives not only help these families, but it helps build awareness. These families have important needs that aren’t being met.”
Jacoby said items being offered as these drives are also items people can’t receive through benefit programs or food stamps. She said any support anyone can provide to families with young children is absolutely critical.