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Bundles of joy

DeKalb church's layette program helps new and expecting mothers

DeKALB – Karen Finn has always loved babies, which is why she is involved with her church’s layette program.

Finn is the chairwoman of First Congregational United Church of Christ’s layette program, which has been run by the church’s women’s fellowship group for more than 35 years. Members of First United Methodist and First Lutheran churches in DeKalb also volunteer, contribute and donate to the program.

The layette program assembles and donates much-needed baby items to new and expecting mothers in DeKalb County. A layette is a bundle of clothing, linens and toiletries for newborns.

“We do it because everyone loves babies,” Finn said. "Every infant deserves something new and nice, and many of the quilts and blankets are handmade.”

Each baby layette includes about 14 items and costs about $50 to assemble. The layettes include at least two shirts or onesies, two washcloths, two gowns or sleepers, one sweater or cardigan, one small bar of Ivory soap, two receiving blankets, a burp cloth and a book. All items are bundled inside one of the receiving blankets and secured with pins.

Participants in the program assemble and donate more than 250 layettes each year.

“It’s a beginning packet with all of the essentials you’d new for a newborn baby,” said Hillary Joy, administrator of First Congregational’s ministry team for mission and outreach. “New moms might not realize the items they need, like a burping rag. The layettes are given to women who can’t afford them but need them the most.”

The layettes are given to the DeKalb County Health Department’s Women, Infants and Children Program, Safe Passage and Hope Haven to distribute to new or expecting mothers who need them.

WIC is a nutrition program for low-income women who are pregnant, recently had a baby, or are breastfeeding and for children up to age 5. 

Community members can help the layette program by purchasing or making items for the layettes and dropping them off at the church or by donating money. There also is a bin located outside of the church’s sanctuary where donors can drop off donations.

A fundraiser for the layette program, Tacos for Tots, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at First Congregational Church, 615 N. First St. in DeKalb. Dinner costs $10 for adults and $5 for children younger than 4.

Food for the fundraiser was donated by The Lincoln Inn, Los Rancheros, Inboden's Gourmet Meats & Specialty Foods and Rosita’s Mexican Restaurant.

All of the money raised from the Tacos for Tots fundraiser will benefit the layette program.

Finn said that what she likes best about the layette program is receiving thank-you cards from the new mothers who received the items. Through the years, the program has received hundreds of thank-you cards and each of them are read and kept together.

“It’s a really good cause that never goes away,” Finn said. “There are always going to be babies and moms in need. It’s important to do what we can to help others in the community.”

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