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Seniors 4 Newborns make layettes for special deliveries

GIVING SCENE

Ocala, FL - May 6, 2012

Published in The Ocala Star Banner on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 6:30 a.m.

Seniors 4 Newborns member Donna Schwartz, left, shows Kohl's associate Karen Decker how to pack sets of baby items to be given to new babies at the Oak Bend clubhouse on March 28, 2012, in Ocala.

Months and months of crocheting and sewing may be considered by some to be work, but to the women of Seniors 4 Newborns, spending time creating hand-made baby layettes is a labor of love.

Throughout the year, these 24 crafty women make baby blankets, sweaters, hats and socks, and they collect donations of Onesies and diapers. Three or four times a year, they gather to pack up the completed layettes to donate to clients of local pregnancy centers.

At their most recent Packing Party, held on March 28 at the Oak Bend clubhouse, the group had enough items to prepare 60 complete layettes, all coordinated in shades of pink, yellow, blue and green. Fifty layettes were donated to Munroe Regional Medical Center's Midwives of Ocala and 10 were given to A Peaceful Beginning, a home-birth midwifery service.

"It's amazing to see all the hand-crafted items come together. That's the fun part," said Ryan, noting her specialty is crocheting blankets. "Every baby really needs a nice blanket. It gives them a nice beginning."

Since others in the group crochet hats and sweaters, she said, they work together to ensure everyone has matching yarn. "This is a group of just good-hearted women, and we work very well together," she said.

Shirley Kehl, who sews and helps deliver the layette packages, agreed and said the women meet often to exchange stitching ideas.

"I enjoy the companionship of the other girls," said Kehl. "And I especially enjoy that sometimes we end up getting pictures of the babies in the outfits. You can see it is a worthwhile project."

"This may be the only new outfit some of these babies get," said Alice Walker, coordinator of Seniors 4 Newborns. "While I'm crocheting, I imagine a 2-year-old dragging around their blanket, and it just makes me feel good."

"Today's generations of moms don't really know about knitting and crocheting, so the layettes are really special for them. They're always excited to receive them," said Cheryl Babcock, manager at Midwives of Ocala.

Amy Reynolds, who owns and operates A Peaceful Beginning, said 70 percent of her clients are on Medicaid, so a lot of them really need the items. "They're very grateful, especially when they see everything is handmade," she said.

Reynolds was among the more than 30 people who attended the recent packing party. Others included 17 members of Seniors 4 Newborns, five volunteers from Kohl's department store and various friends of the group.

Walker said she is waiting to hear if Seniors 4 Newborns qualifies for a $500 donation from Kohl's.

The group depends on donations for materials, she noted. Last year, the women raised nearly $400 from a fundraiser hosted at Belk's. Her neighbors and others in the community have been generous with donations as well, she said, but additional materials are always needed.


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