Every child is a blessing.
That is why Kathryn Salo gently fills another box.
“It’s a lot for someone if they are struggling financially,” Salo says.
She carefully folds a sleeper and slips it inside.
“And we always try to include something handmade too,” she says.
Salo runs a non-profit volunteer baby box program called Blessings 4 Babies which was created in partnership with the Gabriel Project, designed for women in the pregnancy crisis program sanctuary outreach in Guelph.
The idea behind Blessings 4 Babies is to be able to provide an opportunity to ‘bless’ any new mother and her baby with some initial necessities.
“It is astonishing to think of how many things you need when you have a baby. I was lucky to have the support of family and friends, but I often wonder what it must be like if you don’t have that,” Salo said.
The mother of two turned her wonder into action two and a half years ago when she decided to start the program.
“I tried to run this out of my laundry room but it became overwhelming. Then someone from the Gabriel Project suggested that we should do something and that’s when I shared my idea,” Salo said.
And since then, the program has been running out of the Elora Road Christian Fellowship Church in Guelph which shares a mission of serving, connecting and reaching out to those in need.
“The big focus is on helping others,” Salo says. “Women from the church and myself crochet blankets and other items for the boxes. We like to include something handmade.”
Salo prepares her boxes in a room where various items are stored including used baby clothing and a colourful assortment of hand made baby blankets waiting to find a new home.
Each free box includes sleepers and several outfits from three to 12 months as well as: a snowsuit, sweaters, hats, socks, booties bedding, size 1 disposable diapers, toiletries and feeding items if required.
Items may vary depending on availability.
“In this day and age, people shouldn’t have to wonder how they can get these items for their babies.” Salo said
For anyone interested in ordering a free box, they can do so by email at: blessings4babies.ca
Blessings 4 Babies suggests that ordering the box while in the second trimester of pregnancy is best and if they would like the box to be gender specific, that can be arranged also.
Only a few questions are asked including the season the baby is due to arrive, and where the recipient is located.
“Some people feel they have to justify why they need it. But they don’t,” Salo says. “Your baby exists.”
The program services Guelph, Fergus, Elora and surrounding area, approximately up to a 30 km distance from Guelph.
And if transportation is an issue, volunteers will help with arrangements for pick/up and drop off.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away,” Salo said.
All items used for Blessings 4 Babies are donated.
“It’s a great way to connect hand-me-downs. People are more than happy to donate back to us because it feels good for them to know that they are helping and there are also people who don’t want to throw things out. They want their things to be useful,” Salo said
Diapers are always in demand, toiletries and crib sheets for anyone wishing to donate.
“Its ridiculous to think people don’t have access to these things. And often these things are worn for a second because children grow so fast.”
Anyone in need of an item that Blessings 4 Babies does not carry, will be connected to someone who does.
“We are all helping as many people as we can, together. We are all connected. This is what I’m doing, but it doesn’t stop here. There are so many ways we can show love,” Salo said.
Salo says the need is incredibly random as she can fill one box one month and five the next. She never knows how many are needed but boxes are always prepared and ready.
Before filling her last box for the day, Salo checks to see all is in and neatly put together. On top, she includes an information sheet listing other helpful resources for new moms.
“There is a need,” Salo says.
“And as long as people are in need of it, I will keep doing it.”
For more information, to request a box or to donate, visit: blessings4babies.ca