A group of local women are making sure that babies will have clothes to wear.
The local chapter of Christ Child Society puts together baby gift baskets called layettes that contain baby clothing, an afghan or quilt, hooded towel, diapers and books, according to Jackie Womer, committee chairwoman.
“It provides basically like a starter kit for new mothers,” she said.
The organization gave out 443 layette baskets in 2012, which was actually a down year, according to Womer. It distributed 472 baskets the previous year.
“I think we always should help people in need,” Womer said. “My basic philosophy is everyone deserves the right to have food, shelter and clothing and medical care.”
The organization doesn’t donate the supplies directly but works through shelters and charitable organizations in the Capital Region. Among the organizations that receive the layettes are Whitney Young, Birthright of Ballston Spa and Schenectady, Catholic Charities, Albany Medical Center, St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany County Health, Alpha Pregnancy Center in Schenectady, Healthy Families Troy and North Country Ministry in Warrensburg.
There is a core group of four volunteers and others that come in and out, according to Womer. The group makes sweaters and hats in blue, pink and neutral colors because some pregnant women don’t know the sex of the baby. Other clothing in the layette consists of booties and socks, undershirts, stretch suits and a sweater/hat set.
Christ Child Society could always use more help.
“We’re always looking for people to volunteer and knit and crochet for us,” Womer said.
Although not affiliated with the parish, St. Madeleine Sophie Roman Catholic Church in Guilderland allows the group to use some of its space.
For clothing it cannot make, the group collects donations at “baby showers” hosted by churches and other organizations. It was at a baby shower that got JoAnn Merges of Delmar involved in the layette program. She had been knitting afghans for Christ Child Society for about three decades and wanted to get involved.
Fashion show benefit
Whatever items it doesn’t make or receive at baby shower events, the organization has to buy. Christ Child Society is heavily dependent on fundraising to support its roughly $20,000 to $25,000 budget, according to Womer. One of its major fundraisers is its fashion show, which Womer said usually brings in about $2,500.
This year’s event will take place on April 6 at Glen Sanders Mansion. The show will feature clothing by CJ Banks and Christopher & Banks. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children. For more information or for tickets, call 355-1821 or 377-1877. Reservations are required by March 29.
Chris Wtodarczak of Schenectady, chairwoman of the fashion show committee, has been involved with the organization for about three years because she believes it is a very worthy cause. “You see their faces. You go to the shelter and see these kids with nothing,” she said.
The organization also holds two major bake sales during the year to support its activities. In addition to the layette program, Christ Child Society collects comfort packages including books, stuffed animals and personal care products for women and children entering shelters including Unity House, the YWCA of Schenectady and Mercy House.
The group adopts at least one family for Christmas. Last year, it sponsored three families from Schoharie, which included five adults and seven children. It sends three or four children to summer camp and clothes three or four children every year for their First Communion.