Leadership Johnson County group spearheads drive addressing diaper insecurity

Packages of all shapes, colors and sizes line the shelves of the Indiana Diaper Source and Baby Boutique.

Here, donations serve as a lifeline for area families. All different kinds of diapers are available to those who can’t afford them — an issue that affects 1 in 2 families in Johnson County.

When people think of helping families in need, they tend to focus on aspects such as food, shelter and utilities, said Melissa Rojas, executive director of Great Harvest Food Pantry, which operates the Indiana Diaper Source and Baby Boutique.

But diaper insecurity is increasingly a threat.

“The first step is really to bring awareness to diaper insecurity — then not to just raise awareness, but to do something tangible about it,” Rojas said.

To help alleviate some of the need, a group of local leadership students have partnered with the Indiana Diaper Source for an event they’re calling the Bottoms Up Diaper Drive. From 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, local residents are encouraged to bring unopened packages of diapers in any size to Grace Assembly of God. The greatest need is for diapers in size 4 to 6.

Organizers hope to collect at least 100,000 diapers, and raise $3,000 for other supplies, to help more families move past diaper insecurity.

“So often, people want to know how they can really make a difference. Here is a way — here is a place that’s right in the county, it’s easy to access,” said Cindee Phillips, one of the group members. “Small things can make such a difference, and that’s what this feels like to me.”

Diaper need is a problem plaguing families throughout the United States, not just Johnson County. According to the National Diaper Bank Network’s Diaper Check 2023 report, 47% of families reported diaper need last year. Those families cannot afford enough diapers to keep their infant or child clean, dry, and healthy, making babies more vulnerable to painful rashes and urinary tract infections and have more trips to the doctor, according to the network.

The report states that 60% of parents miss work or school because they can’t afford the diapers required to leave their baby in childcare.

Those figures echo what the Indiana Diaper Source is seeing locally, Rojas said.

“We distribute about 30,000 diapers total — 20,000 of it through our drive-through, and we’re also a bank to supply to (Department of Child Services), the Refuge, the Johnson County WIC office,” Rojas said. “Then our mobile unit goes live this month.”

Rojas is a member of this year’s class of Leadership Johnson County and its Signature Program. Participants in the program meet once a month to focus on different aspects of leadership throughout the county.

The centerpiece of the program, though, is the group project. In the first month, participants break off into small groups, with each team required to envision and enact a project that would benefit the community.

As her group investigated potential projects they could take on, diaper insecurity seemed like a natural fit.

“Something that really brought us together as a group — we were the only group in the Class of 2024 who are all women. So [it] was really special to us and important to us, and we wanted to make an impact that reflected us as a group of women in leadership in Johnson County,” said Mackenzie Haney, a member of the group. “We all have moms; we all know moms who are special to them.”

They were astounded by the statistics and the need that existed, Gates said.

“One of the things that stood out to me was, diaper insecurity isn’t just affecting the parents, it’s affecting the babies, because they have to stay in a diaper longer than they normally would, maybe once it’s been soiled. They wouldn’t change it as often, because they can’t afford to go through that many diapers a day,” she said.

In addition to Phillips, Gates, Rojas and Henry, the group includes members Jessica Hudson, Khailey Brown and Lynsey Stanford. They started working together on a plan to address diaper insecurity. Their approach is two-pronged.

The main thrust of the project is the diaper drop-off event at Grace Assembly of God on Sunday.

But the group also worked with organizations and businesses around the county to serve as drop-off locations for unopened packages of diapers two weeks leading up to the drop-off. Starting on April 1, people could bring diapers to all Johnson County Public Library branches; Keller Williams, 108 N. SR 135, Trafalgar; First Financial Bank locations at, 50 Branigin Road, Franklin, and 8740 S. Emerson Ave., Indianapolis, and Bargersville Wellness, 17 Baldwin St.

Those collections are ongoing through Saturday. People can also donate monetarily at Indiana Diaper Source’s website.

“We did that because people might not be able to come on (Sunday), but we still want them to be able to contribute,” Gates said.

The group is calling this the first annual Bottoms Up Diaper Drive, as they’ve taken steps to ensure the event can easily go on each year in the future.

“We’re trying to organize this in a way that it will happen every year, that it will be part of their fundraising every year,” Phillips said.


Bottoms Up Diaper Drive

What: A community project to alleviate diaper insecurity in Johnson County.

When: 3-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Grace Assembly of God, 6822 U.S. 31 S., Whiteland

How to help: Supporters can unopened packages of diapers during the drive. The greatest need is for size 4-6.

Diapers are also being collected through Saturday at the following locations: All Johnson County Public Library branches; Keller Williams, 108 N. SR 135, Trafalgar; First Financial Bank locations, 50 Branigin Road, Franklin, and 8740 S. Emerson Ave., Indianapolis, and Bargersville Wellness, 17 Baldwin St.

Monetary donations are also being accepted at www.indianadiapersource.org.