Diaper pantry may stay put

The director of A Small Hand – Piatt County Infant and Diaper Pantry in Monticello hopes to keep her headquarters in place at the Piatt County Office Building, despite a two week notice by the county to vacate a second space in the building the non-profit uses to store diapers and other items.

Christina Sanantonio, who founded the organization five years ago, had originally said she would move the entire operation out of the county-owned building, saying it would be too difficult to have supplies in one location and the pantry at another.

She also had concern the pantry could also get the boot at any time.

“I don't want that cloud hanging over the pantry,” Sanantonio said after receiving the two week notice on the storage area on Tuesday.

But county board members Wednesday expressed support for the pantry, which distributes between 1,500 and 2,000 diapers each Friday.

“We were never going to ask you to leave,” said Randy Shumard. Instead, he stated it is part of a shuffle to free up space for a geriatric doctor that will serve the adjacent county nursing home, along with a mental health counselor.

“We have some things we need office space for,” he said.

Fellow county board member Ray Spencer offered a portable storage unit to help store diapers on site, at least for a while. That – along with assurances there are no pending two-week notices for the pantry space – has Santantonio thinking there may be a way to stay put.

“I'm going to take it back to my board and see what they say,” she said.

Volunteers will begin removing custom shelving from the storage area and moving what they can this Friday, hopefully being able to store a majority of it in the pantry space. Shumard thought the Community Action office located across the hall from A Small Hand could also be a landing spot for some of the supplies.

The rearranging will also mean moving at least one of the two Services for Seniors offices to another location within the office building. Piatt County Nursing Home Director Scott Porter said plans are to keep the two offices together, and apologized for any concern generated by the efforts.

“The misunderstanding is on me,” he said. “I could have facilitated this a little better. Services for Seniors will be kept together.”

The Carle geriatric group has expressed interest in staffing an office to help treat nursing home patients, who currently receive doctoral care mainly by those based at other locations. A doctor's office would require certain amenities such as a sink and certain amount of space, and Shumard said Carle wants the office to be located outside the nursing home yet close to it. The PCOB, the former Kirby hospital, is connected to the nursing home.

Santantonio had originally put out a Facebook plea on Tuesday for a new location for the pantry, saying she needed “help with a fast solution” because of the two weeks notice on the storage area. She said several churches have also offered to temporarily store supplies for A Small Hand.

Sanantonio formed A Small Hand – Piatt County Infant and Diaper Pantry in November of 2013, and distributed 10,000 diapers that year to those who could not afford to buy them. Demand rose to 50,000 diapers the next year, and the organization is on track to give out between 75,000 and 100,000 in 2018.



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