About a year ago, I was doing a Random Acts of Kindness day with my family. I mentioned to my friend, a former NICU nurse, that part of my day involved delivering flowers to the hospital. I asked her for ideas for future service projects, and her answer surprised me. “New baby clothes. A lot of mamas come in to give birth … and then they fail the drug tests. They don’t get to take their baby home. A foster parent is called, but often they don’t have much warning, and these babies don’t even have an outfit to wear home from the hospital.”
So here’s the thing: no baby is going to care if they have a new outfit to wear home from the hospital, or a soft cuddly blanket, or a lovey toy.
But I care.
So I got my creative wheels spinning. And since I don’t have that many creative wheels to spin, I began talking to my friend Tiffany, who is delightfully creative. We have thrown several baby shower in the past, and they’ve always been darling (thanks, Tiffany) and fun (thanks, friends). So we did what we do best: we threw a baby shower.
For a hospital.
We invited our friends from church to come over. We played games, we ate delicious food, we did a few fun activities. It was the perfect girls’ night. It was just like a baby shower. The only difference: there was no pregnant woman to bring gifts for. Instead, we brought gifts for a local hospital.
I reached out to the hospital in our area that serves the most underprivileged communities and I asked them what their greatest needs were. They were thrilled to answer my questions, and they e-mailed me a list of the things the new moms at their hospital could use the most. We included that list with the invitation for the baby shower.
If you’d like to host a baby shower for charity, here are a few tips for you:
* Raffle prizes. If you’d like to give people incentive to RSVP, you can offer a raffle prize for that. And you can also give raffle tickets to those who bring a donation! I love bringing prizes, but I wanted to stick to a budget, so I got creative. I hit up Bath and Body Work’s semiannual sale. I received “$10 off of any $10 or more” coupons from both Kohls and JCPenney, so I visited both stores and got prizes for almost nothing. And I used my Shopkick points to get a Target gift card to buy several more prizes. If you want to get creative, you can stick to themes: those who bring baby body wash are entered to win a basket of body products, etc.
* Think of the new moms, not just the babies. Motherhood is precious. Motherhood is sacred. Motherhood is … terrifying. 🙂 Particularly for moms who don’t have a strong support system, bringing a baby home from the hospital can be absolutely overwhelming. We made little gifts to give the new mamas. They all varied, based on the donations given, but we included toiletry items (basically blessing bags) and a few little pampering products (like fun lip gloss and lotion). You could even make cards if you wanted to. We chose instead to make gift tags and left them blank for the nurses to fill out.
* Get crafty. Besides making gift tags, we also (at the suggestion of a friend whose baby spent time in the NICU) made simple pictures that can be taped to the top of isolettes. Those poor babies have very little to look at, and having simple images to focus on is great for their development. You could also make cards for the moms (or the hard-working nurses), make blankets (for babies or for moms), put together little scrapbooks … be creative!
(Recognize my blue fingernails?) 🙂
If this sounds like something you’d like to do, there are lots of places that would love to receive your donations! Here are a few ideas:
* A hospital
* A women’s shelter
* Any homeless shelter or center that helps disadvantaged people in your community (even a local food pantry would probably be grateful to make sure these donations get to someone in need)
* Operation Shower (an organization that plans baby showers for military families who are experiencing, or have recently experienced, deployment)
* A pregnancy center
Make sure to contact your organization before you plan the shower. They will likely be happy to provide you with a list of items that they need/want. They might also have things they can’t accept. When we began planning this baby shower, I found several large stuffed animals on the 90% off clearance rack. I was ecstatic! But after purchasing them, I found out that my hospital doesn’t accept donations of stuffed animals for allergy reasons. Learn from my mistake, friends. 🙂
So there it is in a nutshell! I had SO much fun with this shower, and I’m so grateful for amazing friends who pitched in and made it a delightful evening. Do you have any ideas to add to my list? Have you done something similar? Are you going to give this a try? I’d love to hear your thoughts!