Anyone who has bought diapers lately knows how expensive they can be and how fast the cost can add up.

Nationwide, about a third of all U.S. families can't afford them. Among them is Heather Wallace of Burlington.

"This little guy likes to eat a lot," said Wallace of her 3 ½-month-old boy, Arthur. "Pretty much every diaper just goes right through, and they are expensive."

The family goes through about 70 diapers every week – adding up to over $100 a month.

It's a hefty expense given Heather's boyfriend has been out of work lately. Neither food stamps nor WIC cover diapers, leaving low-income families in a bind.

"If I don't have diapers to change him, what am I gonna do? It kinda makes you feel like you've failed as a parent,” said Wallace. “So, you call family. You look for resources in the community. You've gotta get that diaper on the baby."

Increasingly, community groups are coming to the rescue.

Diaper banks are opening up across the country.

Diaper Bank of Skagit County was founded by retired maternity nurse Calista Scott when she saw how many people were in need.

"Folks use newspaper and duct tape, plastic bags with cutouts for the legs," said Scott.

Teaming with Community Action of Skagit County, Scott holds diaper drives and fundraisers that allow her group to distribute 8,000 diapers between Mount Vernon, La Conner, and Anacortes every month.

Without the bank, Community Action's Wende Dolstad says financial and emotional stress can take a toll on families.

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"Babies get more fussy. They get sick. The parents get upset. That means the baby is not growing up in a family that is stable and able to meet their needs. That impacts the baby," said Dolstad.

Recent studies have shown leaving babies in dirty diapers can lead to everything from urinary tract infections for the child, to mental health issues for the mom.

Commissioners named this week "Diaper Need Awareness Week" in Skagit County.

Thanks to the bank, Wallace is now flush with diapers. She has been connected with a service that allows her to buy them for less than a third of what they cost in a grocery store.

Diaper Bank of Skagit County hopes to expand into Sedro-Woolley and Concrete in the near future.