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Donations, diapers and chicken: How a nonprofit and a Rock Hill Chick-fil-A seek to protect young babies

Michael Wahl, a former pastor, heads a non-profit that creates and distributes reusable diapers to developing nations. The Chick-Fil-A on Cherry Road in Rock Hill is donating proceeds from children who turn in their Kid’s Meal toys to the non-profit. Photo from DriButts.com
Michael Wahl, a former pastor, heads a non-profit that creates and distributes reusable diapers to developing nations. The Chick-Fil-A on Cherry Road in Rock Hill is donating proceeds from children who turn in their Kid’s Meal toys to the non-profit. Photo from DriButts.com

Put simply, Chad Sheley has a real soft spot for children.

And that unconditional love is going to help cover a lot of newborn bottoms, if the Rock Hill Chick-fil-A owner can do what he’s hoping to accomplish on Monday.

“It’s a special event to me,” said Sheley, who raises three children of his own, along with several different foster child placements over the past two years.

Sheley is opening his heart and his Cherry Road store to a unique organization called DriButts, a registered nonprofit that helps create and distribute reusable diapers intended to lower the risk of death from fecal-related diseases in developing nations.

The special diapers, which dry quickly and have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, were designed and first created by former Douglasville, Ga. pastor Michael Wahl. Wahl spent several mission trips in places like Haiti and Nicaragua, where he noticed several small children were forced to either sleep in dirty diapers or go without, increasing their risk of infection.

Bringing back a bulk load of disposable Huggies wasn’t going to cut it, Wahl figured. So he decided in 2014 to see if he could create a diaper based off of the same type of sweat-wicking material that athletes wear.

“A buddy of mine was wearing a dry-fit shirt one day, and I said ‘I wonder if I could make a diaper out of that,’” Wahl said. “These diapers, they save lives.”

The finished product, which can be washed in a water bucket and dried within 45 minutes, can be used for over two years, according to Wahl, who stepped down from his pastor position to work for his nonprofit full-time, with his wife Starla. They’ve registered the nonprofit organization with the Internal Revenue Service and already this year have delivered 6,000 diapers. They’re trying to hit 10,000 diapers by the end of 2016.

“We cover butts for a living,” Wahl said. “We talk about the Bible to people, but we wanted to step out with our faith and help firsthand.”

The franchise owner will be kicking off a long-term charity drive starting Monday at the Chick-fil-A at 2415 Cherry Rd in Rock Hill, where children can forgo their kid’s meal toys in order to make a comparable donation to DriButts.

Sheley estimates that there were 60,000 kid’s meals sold in the month of June. If the store were to collect donations from just 10 percent or 20 percent of that volume, if would be enough to make a huge difference over time, he said. The store will keep a number of bagstuffers and DriButts fliers at the location until January, according to Sheley.

Sheley has gone on mission trips to less-fortunate areas of the world. Wahl already has taken about 60 donors with him on his bi-monthly trips to affected countries, and Sheley says he’d be honored to join him sometime soon.

“We have a potential opportunity to be a part of change,” said Sheley. “Whether it’s eight diapers or 800 diapers, I genuinely believe that every life matters, and that every kid deserves a chance at a full life,” he said. “Can you imagine how great it would be to put a diaper on a child you were able to help?”

Wahl said Sheley had been a follower and supporter of their work and recently approached him with the store donation idea. He says a a Chick-fil-A executive will be watching the campaign and that it could expand.

How did Wahl came up with the strange name for his nonprofit? In 2014, he entered the Atlanta-based Plywood Presents Idea Competition on the whim of a friend’s suggestion. He settled on the name DriButts - and ended up winning a $5,000 prize.

The Wahls made their first 800 diapers right on their own kitchen table. Today, they’ve received attention and donations from across the country, according to Michael Wahl.

Wahl will be at Sheley’s store on Monday, helping to get out the message. He distributes most of his products to Haiti, and also takes trips to Honduras and Nicaragua. He also has hopes of reaching Mexico and Romania in the future.

“This isn’t about me,” said Wahl. “This is about a group of people who believe in changing lives and doing it together. Together, we can make a difference.”

David Thackham: 803-329-4066, @dthackham

How you can donate:

  • Starting Monday, at the Chick-fil-A at 2415 Cherry Rd in Rock Hill, children can forgo their kid’s meal toys to benefit DriButts.
  • Go to http://www.dributts.com/.
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