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Jefferson Award winner, February 2020: Megan Sollenberger

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DANE COUNTY (WKOW) -- They say it takes a village to raise a child. Megan Sollenberger of Verona is providing one very important piece of the puzzle.

"As a mom in general, it's really hard to think about the fact that there are babies going to bed hungry or wet or just not having their basic needs met."

Her mission started after the impact of  Hurricane Harvey in Texas, where she has family.

"We were trying to figure out a way to help those folks get back on their feet. To my surprise, the biggest need was diapers for small children."

Within two weeks, she was able to raise $2,000 to send to the Houston Diaper Bank.

"It was just all about educating people that this was an issue. Most people think that public assistance helps with diapers and it's simply not true."

She knew if she could make an impact down south, she could do the same here at home, where one in three families struggles to afford diapers.

"In Dane County, as of a couple years ago, there were 5,000 kids under age 4 living below the federal poverty line."

Megan launched the Dane County Diaper Bank in 2018 partnering with Reach Dane.

"We started with 39 kids in October of 2018, we now are regularly serving 130 each month and we are expanding partnerships this year."

Jen Bailey is the executive director of Reach Dane.

She says,"These are truly the poorest of the poor families that we're serving in our community. So, just having those diapers every month, as a mom, that frees up money in your budget to put it towards rent, or you have a child that needs medicine or your car has broken down."

Thanks to donations, each family gets 90 diapers a month, per child, saving parents $40 a month. That's more than 10,000 diapers distributed each month.

"I think people think of diaper need as just something as simple as, well they just have a dirty diaper, and they're just uncomfortable," says Megan. "But it's just so much more than that. If their needs aren't being met, inherently that affects the bond that's able to form early on, which inherently affects a child's ability to develop in all areas."

Even with two kids of her own at home and a full time job, Megan spends about 15 hours a week, working toward the cause. 

"I think we need more folks like Megan that are focused on the greater good in the community and 'What can I do as one individual to truly make a difference' and she really is," says Jen. "The drive and the time and the energy and motivation and truly selflessness that goes into putting time and energy and resources into this every single month to benefit many families that she will never even meet."

"If we can contribute in a small way to another parent feeling like they're a success that day, that's huge for me and for our organization," says Megan.

She says their goal for this year is to be able to help 250 children each month, by the end of the year.

They're holding a golf outing in June to help raise money to cover the cost of serving more kids. 

The Diaper Drive
Sunday, June 14, 2020
8:00am - 2:00pm Tee time - 9am 
Pleasantview Golf Course Middleton, WI 
$75 per golfer $275 per foursome (includes: lunch, t-shirt & swag bag)

Register Here: bit.ly/319BpOA

Amber Noggle

Anchor, 27 News at 5, 6 and 10

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