"The needs we're having are the same needs we've always had," said Randi Winn McSwain, director of pregnancy services for the Women's Resource Center. "There is just a need in the community for services that provide baby items. Our numbers have grown this year but basically, there's always a need for diapers. So we ration the diapers that we receive and we give each baby 10 diapers once every three months. We would love to have our shelves so full that we could give every baby a pack of diapers once every three months or once every other month.
"But right now, it's an ongoing battle for us to keep diapers, especially size four and five diapers. [They] are our greatest need. ... The main thing is diapers are so expensive. There is no outside help for those. Obviously there's plenty of help for food, formula and all that kind of stuff but there is none for diapers. So that's why diapers is our greatest need because people cannot purchase those with anything but cold hard cash basically."
To help stock the nonprofit's shelves, the Governor's House is hosting the benefit, Dinner for Diapers, Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is free with the donation of baby-related items, ranging from diapers and shampoo to car seats and cribs. In addition to these supplies, McSwain said monetary donations always are welcome. During the benefit, attendees will be treated to a buffet while viewing the Kingston venue's holiday decorations.
"During the Christmas season every year -- I don't think I'm unique in that -- I get this real giving spirit," said Joan Mannis, owner of the Governor's House. "And then you get busy and you think, 'Oh well, I don't have time to do it.' Well, this year I read an article in People magazine about a lady out in the Midwest who had become aware of the fact that these families could not get diapers on any giveaway program that the government has. You can't get them on your food stamp card. There's just no place to go get diapers, wipes, that type thing that's a non-food item.
"And I thought, 'I could do that.' ... A lady that works with me, I [told her] 'You know, I can collect it, I just don't [have] any way of distributing it.' And she knew of the Resource Center and she said, 'Call them.' So I called and they said, 'Oh my goodness, this is just a godsend. You do not have any idea how much we have [a] need for those items and how little budget we have this year' because they work strictly on donations and fundraisers. And people who used to contribute now are people who in many cases that are in need and they just have so little budget to work with."
After the event, people are encouraged to deliver contributions to the Women's Resource Center, 20 Douglas St., in Cartersville. Formed in 1989, the nonprofit also offers free pregnancy testing, parenting classes, pregnancy education, pre- and post-abortion education, maternity and infant needs, life coaching and support groups.
"One of the things we've seen this year that's more unique than in previous years is that we're seeing an increase in homeless or displaced persons. So they are in crisis all around in their life. It's not specifically related to the pregnancy. They've lost their home. They've lost their job. So the joblessness and the homelessness has increased and therefore the demand for our services has increased.
"And this year, we've done more referrals to outside agencies than ever before for issues such as housing, utilities, doctor bill assistance. ... For the most part, when we're able to help they are very grateful. A lot of times it gives our clients hope more than anything. We try to offer hope no matter what the need is and they leave here at least with the confidence that someone cares about them and that there is hope. There's other places they can go for help and make it through this difficult time."
For more information about Dinner for Diapers, contact the Governor's House -- 45 E. Howard St. in Kingston -- 770-336-9149. Further details about the Women's Resource Center can be obtained by calling 770-382-7224 or visiting www.bartowbabies.org.