Nov./Dec. response: Showering Newborns in Wisconsin
by Joslyn Juhl and Marilyn Eyster
… As you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40)
The goal our Milton United Women in Faith set for our local mission project, Baby Shower for Jesus, was to put together a total of 10 newborn baby gift bags, five for girls and five for boys for our local hospital. These would be kept on hand at the hospital to give to those new parents who did not have all the necessary supplies at their baby’s birth.
The idea originated from neighboring Asbury United Methodist Church in Janesville, Wisconsin. Ten years previously, a family in that church started this practice. When they moved away, a woman from Asbury who worked at the hospital took it on. For many years, she made it her personal ministry. When it became cost-prohibitive to continue doing it on her own, other Asbury church women joined in to help her. Recently they contacted our Milton unit to see if we would like to share in the ministry.
Our Milton women were enthusiastic and decided to make it a Baby Shower for Jesus for the whole month of December. We always plan to take up some type of special donation for our December meeting, and the project fits perfectly. We decided also to open it up to all church members and published information in our monthly Milton United Women in Faith newsletter. This is a publication which goes out to all women of the church. The article told what we were planning and listed suggested donations. Through the month of December, the donation basket in our narthex filled to overflowing.
Our Milton unit meets once a month on Wednesday afternoons. We also have a circle made up mainly of working women, which meets on Sundays twice a month between our two church services. These active circle women enjoy hands-on mission projects and were enthusiastic to meet one evening to organize all the donations and pack the bags. Each bag contained diapers, wipes, socks, hats, bibs, a blanket, a toy, and about 12-15 items of clothing. In the end, we had not just 10 bags but enough supplies for 16.
The bags each contained a note to congratulate the parents on their baby’s birth and to encourage them that the people of Milton UMC would love to continue to support them if they are searching for a church home. The note also included the church’s address, phone number, and service times. At a Sunday service, the completed bags were blessed, and we prayed for the babies and families who would receive them. Then one of our members, who is a nurse at the hospital where the bags were destined, delivered the bags.
We received this note of gratitude from the hospital maternity service: “Please extend our sincere thank you to the volunteers of Milton United Methodist Church. So many patients come through our doors that don’t have all the necessary supplies, or any means to get them. It is so generous of you to donate your time and resources to help others in need. These kits will be extremely beneficial to these families, as it will serve an immediate need until they can be connected to proper community resources. We are forever grateful for your donation.”
Joslyn Juhl is a leader of the Women’s Small Group Sunday Circle and a nurse at Mercy Hospital where the baby gift bags were donated. She wrote the original story that appeared in the Milton United Women in Faith Women’s Newsletter. Marilyn Eyster is vice president of United Women in Faith at Milton United Methodist Church in Milton, Wisconsin.