If you don't have the holiday spirit yet, you probably are at least feeling the pressure to get your holiday shopping -- and subsequent budget crises -- under way.
Among the essential Christmas shopping supplies like Scotch gift wrap tape and last year's gift bags, perhaps no item is more vital than a calculator. At least if you want to keep track of the damage, that is.
In my family, figuring out what we have to spend on Christmas is the big downer in a season that is supposed to be full of carols and cheer.
For others, crunching numbers is necessary on a daily basis for staples like groceries, toiletries, and for young families, even diapers.
According to a study done by Huggies this year, one in three American mothers struggles to provide diapers for their babies. This, the diaper brand concluded, can lead to babies being kept in wet, dirty diapers or even being made to wear used disposable diapers a second time.
Many able families make the holidays a time to help others in need, donating turkeys or toys. Yes, the thought of a child with no toys under the tree is unpleasant, but, at least for me, the thought of a child wearing a soggy diaper for an extended period is outright heartbreaking.
And it's so much more than just a holiday-season problem.
Huggies, with support from March of Dimes and others, is currently running a national "Every Little Bottom" diaper drive.
Locally, one woman is on her own mission to make sure every mom has the diapers she needs.
Jody Stephenson, as she put it, just got her 501(c)3 status, freshly minted from the IRS, for her organization The Red Wagon Ministry.
She is in her third year of collecting diapers, which she hands over to C-CAP of Winchester for distribution, she said during a recent phone interview. In her first year, she said, she collected about 10,000 diapers. She collected 1,000 in September.
Stephenson sets up her little display of angel-winged baby photos and red wagon at area churches and other organizations for a period of about a month to collect disposable diapers.
Diapers, she points out, are a continuous need -- one that food stamps and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) assistance don't cover.
Disposable diapers in particular are needed because cloth diapers are not accepted at day care facilities or easily laundered in transient housing conditions, her organization's website says.
She credits a love of children and the calling of the Lord for leading her to the cause, and she wants to expand.
With her new nonprofit status, board of directors and young volunteers, Stephenson is hoping to grow her effort, find other organizations to distribute the diapers that she collects and maybe even take advantage of the Huggies program to draw some of those donated diapers to the valley.
Elsewhere in the valley, Healthy Families Shenandoah County and Healthy Families Northern Shenandoah Valley (covering Frederick and Clarke counties and Winchester) also accept diaper donations, according to United Way of the Shenandoah Valley.
For more information about diaper need and how to help, check out the following websites:
To contact Stephenson, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Contact Jessica Wiant at email@example.com