The tiny smocked gowns with the miniature caps and blankets look as though they were made for dolls, but they serve a sadder purpose. They are donated to three local hospitals and then given to the parents of stillborn children for their babies to be buried in.
For 16 years, members of the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection have made these items through a ministry called Wee Care.
“I think we all know someone who has been impacted by this,” said Kirby Holley, one of the volunteers who meets on the third Wednesday of the month to make the items.
Kathie Hunter, whose husband, David, is the pastor of the church, said she brought the idea for the ministry with her when they moved to the Augusta in 2001. The church they’d previously been part of had a similar ministry.
Each month, they try to make five sets of a blanket, cap and gown in three different sizes. The smallest would be for babies weighing between three and four pounds; with a medium for those between five and six pounds and the largest would be for babies around seven or eight pounds.
Once they’ve gotten several sets together or they get a call from area hospitals informing them more are needed, they donate the items.
“A lot of times they (parents) go to the hospital, and they are unprepared because it’s too early for the baby to be born,” said Holley.
The volunteers have a system for making the gowns that come in white, pink and blue. One volunteer does the smocking while others cut the pieces from the pattern. Another puts the rest of the gown together. Another volunteer stitches the sides of the handkerchief-sized blankets.
Sue Nelson has been part of the group for many years. At home, she often knits the small caps.
“It’s very therapeutic,” she said.
Volunteers say the ministry means a lot to the families who’ve received the items. Even members of their own congregation have needed the items, so it has hit close to home. With each of the sets is a card that simply states the items were made by the women of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection.
They often receive cards and notes from families who received the items. They keep them in scrapbooks.
One grandmother wrote that “my daughter’s precious angel was wrapped in your loving gifts for the few hours that his heart beat, and it made all the difference.”
It’s expressions such as those that keep the women cutting and sewing.
“Sometimes it makes me cry, but it’s a good feeling that you’ve helped someone in their time of need,” said Nelson.