In 1999, a group of women from All Saints’ Episcopal Church decided to come to the aid of area needy newborns and their families by helping to provide new mothers with newborn clothes, blankets, washcloths, burp cloths, toiletries and more.
This small group of women were soon joined by people from other churches and community groups, and Babies In Need was born.
“A member of our congregation was a social worker in the Family Birth Center at Southwest Washington Medical Center,” said Kitty Ash, director of Babies In Need. “At coffee hour one Sunday, she told us about a new mother who was getting ready for discharge and asked if there was a pillowcase she could borrow. She said she had no clothes or bedding for her new baby. Our hearts went out to her and others like her. We learned that about once a week there was a new mother in a similar situation.”
The group began collecting new and gently-used clothes and blankets, washcloths, burp cloths, toiletries, a cuddly toy and a book, and also bought diapers and wipes. Ash said they assembled enough items for the first few months of life and also put a packet on top with a greeting card from Babies In Need, a booklet of encouragement and free area resources, a car seat safety sticker and a booklet of prayers for young children.
Ash said the group members also then bought some car seats, as they are a huge expense for families and are needed in order to take the baby home.
“Initially, we gave about six layettes and three car seats a month,” Ash said. “That has grown steadily and leveled off during the last few years at about 25 layettes and 10 to 12 car seats a month.”
In 2004, Ash said they launched Sibling Bags. These bags are assembled by members of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Battle Ground and contain coloring books, crayons, small toys and games, a cuddly toy and more. She said they also contain a copy of My Baby and Me, a book that honors both baby and sibling with warmth and humor, which was created by a girl scout in Ridgefield.
“Babies In Need responds to local needs with the generous support of local people in 32 churches, 35 civic and business groups and numerous individuals who shop, sew or contribute money for car seats and diapers,” Ash said. “They live in Battle Ground, Ridgefield, La Center, Amboy, Brush Prairie and Vancouver.”
In 2011, Ash said they constructed a storage building to hold donations, provide room for sorting and assembling layettes and allow room for expanding their services to include play ‘n pack cribs, strollers and other large items that will be good for families who are often in crowded or transient situations. She said the building itself was initiated by supporters at Vancouver First United Methodist Church and was funded by Meyer Memorial Trust and Vancouver Rotary Foundation grants and several individual donations.
Ash said the building was built almost entirely with volunteer labor from Vancouver First United Methodist Church, Habitat for Humanity volunteers, All Saints’ Episcopal Church and Friends of the Carpenter.
A few months ago, Ash said Newborns In Need, a separate organization, came to Washington State. She said when they discovered that Babies In Need was established here meeting the needs of newborns, Newborns In Need volunteers chose to focus on sewing groups for fetal demise kits and premature babies under 4 pounds. Babies In Need will continue to provide for the newborns who are discharged from PeaceHealth Southwest and Legacy Salmon Creek hospitals.
Anyone can help Babies In Need by collecting, sewing or buying gently-used or new pajamas, gowns, burp cloths, onesies and fleece gowns/sacques for nighttime. People can also donate money for car seats and diapers or volunteer to work at assembly days. Dates and times of assembly days can be found at www.babiesinneed.org or by calling Ash at (360) 573-8299.
The following churches accept donations for Babies In Need, inside their doors are bins marked “Babies In Need.”
• All Saints’ Episcopal Church – 2100 NW 99th St., Vancouver, Mon., Wed., Thurs., 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m., (360) 573-8106
• St. Luke’s Episcopal Church – 426 E. 4th Plain Blvd., Vancouver, Tues.-Fri., 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., (360) 696-0181
• The Church of the Good Shepherd – 805 SE Ellsworth Rd., Vancouver, Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., (360) 892-7770
• Mill Plain United Methodist Church – 15804 SE Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-1 p.m., (360) 892-2421