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Need diapers? Va. Beach woman's got it covered.
Cheryl Leadbeater is the diaper bank coordinator for the Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank. As the coordinator, she collects donations of diapers to give to families in need. <span class='credit'>(Amena Anderson | For The Virginian-Pilot)</span>

Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank. As the coordinator, she collects donations of diapers to give to families in need. (Amena Anderson | For The Virginian-Pilot)

This story is a sample from the Virginia Beach Beacon, which is included in The Virginian-Pilot every Sunday and Thursday in Virginia Beach.

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Interested?

What National Diaper Awareness Week

When Sept. 8-14

Info For more information about The Greater Hampton Roads Diaper bank, contact Cheryl Leadbeater at cherjl@msn.com, or visit grhdiaperbank.org, or search "Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank" on Facebook. For more information about National Diaper Awareness week, visit nationaldiaper banknetwork.org.


VIRGINIA BEACH

Much of 64-year-old Cheryl Leadbeater's life is focused on diapers.

She is coordinator of the Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank. Lately, she's been working overtime to get the word out that this is National Diaper Awareness week.

Most people don't know there's such a week, she said. In fact, most people don't know there's a need for diapers.

Leadbeater found out by watching a television news report last year as she held her 9-month-old granddaughter.

"I heard that babies were staying in the same diaper all day long," said Leadbeater, adding that parents were also re-using diapers

"I'm like, 'No, no,' "she said. "It was like a knife in my heart."

The Great Neck Farms resident learned that one in three American families struggle to provide diapers for their children. Many families have to choose between food and diapers, according to the National Diaper Bank Network.

Urinary tract infections and diaper dermatitis are just some of the health problems that a baby can develop from dirty diapers, according to a study done by a Yale University student for the National Diaper Bank Network.

After watching the TV news report, Leadbeater e-mailed the National Diaper Bank Network and discovered that the closest diaper bank was in Richmond, an hour or two away for most people in Hampton Roads.

"That's not good," she said. "If they can't afford diapers, how are they going to go to Richmond to get diapers?"

That's when the national branch put her in touch with Bishop Frank Allen, the executive and founding director of Hope Charitable Services in Portsmouth, who had been praying for nine months for someone to help him start a diaper bank.

When he met Leadbeater, he knew she was the one.

"Wow, she swept our entire team off of our feet," Allen said. "Her business acumen was only surpassed by her passion and commitment to help moms find diapers for their kids. Our entire team realized that this was an answer to prayer."

They started the Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank as a department of Hope Charitable Services.

In December 2012, they picked six organizations in Hampton Roads and delivered almost 18,000 diapers, Leadbeater said. Those diapers were given by Operation Blessing, K.I.D.S. and Operation Compassion, Allen said. In February, they distributed almost 2,000 diapers among four agencies. Now we are getting requests for 35,000 diapers per month; and so far, we've been able to distribute about 20,000 per month," Leadbeater said. That means they need an additional 15,000 diapers each month to fulfill the need, so Leadbeater wants to get local churches involved.  "We're trying to reach out to every church in the Hampton Roads area and get them to pick one month out of the year to host a diaper drive for us," she said. Church is really important to Leadbeater. She is a member of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Virginia Beach, and of the New Creation Community.

She described her mission as ordained from God.

"This is not my ministry, it's his ministry; but he has to open the doors for me to do it, and he has," she said. Her faith sustains her when she is uncertain about how she's going fulfill the ever-growing need for diapers.

But since December, the diapers have been coming in; and she and her partners have given out more than 119,000 diapers to 25 agencies.

"My goal for the year was 100,000 when we started this, and we have surpassed that," she said.

The Hampton Roads diaper bank is also getting a new distribution center, she said. The grand opening date hasn't been decided yet, but it will be located outside the New Creation Charismatic Renewal Center at the intersection of Centerville and Elbow roads in Chesapeake, she said.

This is where people will come to donate baby and adult diapers and where agencies will receive diapers. But for now, she said the best way to donate and receive is to contact her directly.

Since starting the diaper drive, Leadbeater has heard several testimonies, such as a pregnant woman who escaped from an abusive relationship and was able to take care of her newborn baby with help from the diaper bank.

"This is the most fulfilling thing that I have ever done in my life," Leadbeater said.

Amena Anderson, correspondent757@gmail.com

 

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