All new mothers need a little help.
Geraldine Stockham, veteran case worker for the Columbia County Department of Family and Children Services, displays baskets full of baby items donated to the agency by the Central Church of Christ on Old Petersburg Road.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
For mothers with no way to purchase everything a newborn needs, a group at the Central Church of Christ in Augusta treats them to an assortment of baby items.
In the "baby room" at the church, volunteers meet regularly to pack large plastic laundry baskets with everything a newborn might need including bottles, blankets, at least four to six gender specific outfits, pacifiers, baby shampoo, cotton swabs, lotion, bottle brushes, diapers, toys and stuffed animals.
The packed baskets are distributed to parents in Columbia and Richmond counties.
"For those that don't have everything they need for their new baby, we try to help them" said Pat Niece, program coordinator. "We try to put in as many small items as we can."
Niece, along with Jane Lewis and Teresa Drake, discovered the project at a West Virginia church on a trip in early 1997. After they proposed the idea to their church's leaders, they were given a budget to shop with.
For the first nine months, the ministry provided baskets to the neonatal nursery at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital. The regular nursery found out and requested baskets. Then HeadStart requested baskets, then the nursery at University Hospital. Though HeadStart has closed, baskets are also distributed through the Columbia County Department of Family and Children Services and Augusta Richmond Community Partnership for Children & Families Inc.
The Columbia County office alone distributes six a month and more upon request, the Columbia County coordinator said.
"(The new mothers) are totally receptive and are very happy to get the extras," said Geraldine Stockham, a longtime case worker who coordinates the program in the Columbia County DFCS office. "It is a nice thing for our agency to be able to do. It is a nice thing for the church to do."
Niece has a slew of volunteers who donate baby items found on sale or at yard sales. Others sew blankets, wash baby clothes, refurbish dolls and donate funds. Many of the volunteers gather in the church's baby room to sort items including clothes by age, gender and season before packing about 75 baskets at a time.
"We have gotten little pictures and notes from quite a few of (the recipients)," Niece said.
The church does accept donations for the baskets, which may be dropped off at the church at 3650 Old Petersburg Road.
"It is a ministry of love, and I enjoy being able to carry it out," Stockham said.
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