East Tenn. organization provides free infant necessities for struggling families

Helping Mamas Knoxville handed out more than 100,000 diapers to East Tennessee families in 2021.
Helping Mamas Knoxville handed out more than 100,000 diapers to East Tennessee families in 2021.
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 4:25 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2022 at 4:49 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Supply chain issues struck the nation, and baby formula is one of the items on the list of hard things to find.

Helping Mamas Knoxville set out to help struggling families in East Tennessee to ensure every baby gets fed.

Executive Director of Helping Mamas Knoxville Tess Frear told WVLT News that supply chain issues were making formula harder to find, making it harder for the group to help.

“It’s just panic; if you can’t find what you need for your baby, then what do you do,” said Frear. “It takes longer to get items, you have moms looking for certain size diapers or certain formula, and they can’t find them.”

The registered diaper bank works with caseworkers and hosts community distribution days to stock families with everything from clothing and toys to diapers and formula.

Formula shortages are especially difficult for families due to the fact that it’s not always easy for parents to swap out brands because some babies develop an intolerance to certain ingredients, according to Frear.

“Some mommas can’t breastfeed; it’s not an option for them, so formula is what they get,” said Frear.

Since the pandemic started, Frear said that the need from families grew significantly, especially for diapers, another product in short supply. One in three U.S. families are in a diaper need, according to a report from the National Diaper Bank Network.

“If I went to the store or tried to order a certain size, 4,5, 6 diapers, they’re not as accessible,” said Frear.

In 2019, Helping Mamas gave out nearly 9,000 diapers, but in 2021, they gave out more than 100,000 diapers for free.

The organization accepts donations via their Amazon registry or in-person Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at their warehouse.

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