EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSOfficers Help Mother Caught Stealing Diapers; Where Parents Can Turn For Help Getting Diapers
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Kallie Cart
Reported: Aug. 6, 2013 11:56 PM EDT
Updated: Aug. 7, 2013 12:08 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
For our local men and women in uniform it's not always about making an arrest, it's about making a difference. Two Charleston Police officers are making headlines for the way they handled a mother caught shoplifting diapers. The entire situation highlights an even bigger problem that a lot of parents struggle with but now there's a new place to turn for help.
Charleston Patrolman Ryan Willard and Detective Duane Fields were called to K-mart in the Patrick Street Plaza a few weeks ago for what they thought was a routine shoplifting complaint but it turned into much more.
"Normally people take things that are going to benefit themselves and she was taking things to benefit her children," Detective Fields says.
Inside the store, they found a mother and her two young daughters, about seven and two years old. They say the mom was stealing diapers, diaper rash cream and some clothes for her girls.
The mother told the officers she had recently fallen onto hard times and her husband stopped helping.
But instead of writing her a ticket or arresting her, the officers reached into their own pockets to help. Detective Fields bought the woman diapers and the cream, while Patrolman Willard took the girls to pick out some outfits, which he bought.
"I try to live a good christian life," Patrolman Willard says he tries to live by those principles. "One kind act can change a person's life and one kind act can change a person's outlook on life in general."
"She was shocked, she didn't know why we were doing it," Detective Fields says.
But their generous act shines a light on an even bigger issue. A new study in the journal Pediatrics finds 30% of women have experienced a time when they could not afford to buy the diapers their children needed.
"It's very difficult to find where to go to get diapers, specifically," Erica Strother says.
So West Virginia's first nationally recognized diaper bank opened in June. The New Life Necessities Diaper Bank in Charleston is a central resource for information, they also distribute diapers, that are donated, to various sites across seven counties. Strother, who is the director of the program, says there is an overwhelming need.
"What we're finding is families are having to go without basic necessities," Strother says. "They're having to decide whether to pay their water bill or buy diapers, whether to put gas in their car or buy diapers or they're even having to borrow money just to buy diapers for their children." She also says it's a problem that stretches across several age and socioeconomic groups.
The officers hope their actions will help the mother caught shoplifting diapers take a step in the right direction, and learn a lesson.
"She wanted to know how she could pay us back, I said 'Ma'am just try not to shop lift again, things will come in your time of need just always try to do the right thing and it will all work out'." Willard says.
The officers say the girls were first intimidated by them and the oldest daughter said she didn't like police, but before they left she gave them a hug. They say they want children and adults to know they are there to help the public. They also weren't intending their actions to go public.
An anonymous donor dropped off $100 to the police station on Tuesday to help that mom get back on her feet.
If you need assistance getting diapers, or know someone who does or would like to donate, the new diaper bank is located inside Asbury United Methodist Church at 501 Elizabeth Street in Charleston. You can reach them at 304-550-7384. It's open Monday-Friday 2pm to 4pm.
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