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Diaper rock-a-thon: Raising awareness for 'no child wet behind'

Al Edenloff | Echo Press Volunteers at Alexandria's first-ever Rock-A-Thon diaper drive relaxed in rocking chairs at the Viking Plaza Mall Sunday. They included Morgan McCrea, Mary Wright, Rachel Cummins, Heather Nack, Kayle Ruter, Connie Fields and Jay Brekken. The students were from Chris Kragenbring's senior English class.1 / 4
Donation containers at informational booths made the point of how even small donations to the diaper drive can add up.2 / 4
T-shirts designed for the diaper drive promoted the effort's website, / 4
Kristen Grode held her daughter, Jada, who helped trigger the idea to start a diaper drive.4 / 4

A new "diaper bank" in Douglas County got off to a rockin' good start Sunday.

A first-ever Rock-A-Thon at the Viking Plaza Mall collected 2,500 diapers and more than $600 in donations to help organizers distribute diapers to local organizations that serve families in need.

Those attending listened to local musicians and toddlers enjoyed games and activities.

Supporters raised awareness toward the cause by sitting in rocking chairs and distributing information from the many display booths that were set up.

The diaper bank is the first of its kind in Minnesota and, as reported in the September 23 Echo Press, it was organized by a 1997 graduate of Jefferson High School in Alexandria - Kristen Grode.

Shortly after her second daughter, Jada, now 10 months, was born, Grode was left with a couple packs of opened diapers that the baby had outgrown. She had no use for them and wanted to give them to someone in need. She called a couple shelters and food pantries and was astonished to discover that they needed diapers badly.

The need prompted Grode, now a resident of Blaine, to do some research online. She discovered that there is no public supplement for diapers for people who are struggling to make ends meet.

The idea to start a diaper drive snowballed from there, quickly gaining the support from friends, organizations and family members, including her parents, Barb and Chuck Wiener of Alexandria.

Grode and her husband, Jason, designed a website - - and received 501(c)(3) non-profit status.

Drop boxes for The Diaper Drive are now located at Elden's Food Fair; Roundabout Sports, Kids and Fun; the Alexandria Area Y; Pete's County Market; and Trumm Drug's downtown store in Alexandria.

Distributing agencies, which were also part of Sunday's Rock-A-Thon, include Birthright, Love INC, Someplace Safe and West Central Minnesota Communities Action. The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Action Council (TePPAC) also had a booth at Sunday's event.

Other key parts of the Rock-A-Thon, Barb Wiener said, were members of Chris Kragenbring's senior English class who served as volunteers, and the local musicians who kept the event rockin' throughout the afternoon.

Since the diaper drive started in September, more than 7,500 diapers have been collected and distributed.

The effort is rockin' on.

A diaper drive at the Mall of America is set for January 15. It's being promoted as the biggest diaper drive in America.


• Safety net programs such as food stamps and Women Infant Children (WIC) do not cover the cost of diapers.

• A $100 donation to the local diaper bank can supply a month's worth of diapers for two children.

• The majority of licensed daycare centers do not accept cloth diapers and require caregivers to provide disposable diapers.

• In poor and low-income families, a baby can spend a day or longer in one diaper, leading to potential health and abuse risks.

• For more information on The Diaper Drive, visit the website or e-mail It can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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