Chatfield food shelf offers resources to help parents of newborns provide good start to life


The Rev. Debra Collum holds items from a Bundles of Love baby layette bundle available at the Chatfield Community Food Shelf for parents who need a little help providing for a newborn. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
By : 
GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY
SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE

Bring home the bacon and bundle the baby.

Now that’s hometown service.

Bundles of Love (BOL) layettes are now available at the food shelf inside the Chatfield United Methodist Church (CUMC)

“We try to keep one girl bundle and one boy bundle on the shelf, and our Bundles of Love volunteer, Kathy Kamnetz, makes sure that the bundles are stocked here. Our quilters’ group makes blankets for the bundles — blankets, quilts and sheets,” said Chatfield Community Food Shelf volunteer Rev. Debra Collum.

Collum pointed out the bundles are made by caring area BOL chapter members who sew baby clothes, blankets and diaper bags at the neighboring former St. Paul Lutheran School building. These bundles help parents of newborns whose resources are tight and need a hand in ensuring their children come home from the hospital with at least one outfit and some basic necessities. These bundles have durable goods in them that will serve the babies who receive them well.

“It’s a lovely layette set, with a diaper bag, blankets, quilts, things that are meant to be used and are not too precious. They’re not so over the top that you can’t use them, yet they’re beautiful,” Collum said. “They’re made with such love, but they’re meant and constructed to be used.”

She reiterated that the quilting ladies would agree with Collum’s assessment of the quilts they make. They understand that these items are going to be used, sometimes on the floor, and that they need to be made to go in the washer and come out in good shape.

“Every four hours, a baby in Minnesota goes home with a free bundle of 25 items produced by Bundles of Love,” read the Bundles of Love website. “Without this bundle, the baby would have nothing — no clothing, no bedding, no diaper bag. The parents frequently are unable to provide these basic needs and our volunteers have come forward to help. Bundles of Love Charity is an all-volunteer non-profit organization, incorporated in the state of Minnesota to help infants and their families. We provide clothing, bedding and necessities for infants in need, we provide correctly-sized clothing for premature infants of all sizes, and we provide burial garments and keepsakes for families who have suffered the loss of an infant due to stillbirth, complications of birth, or illness. Volunteer groups meet monthly throughout the Twin Cities and in Rochester to sew, knit and crochet essential clothing and blankets for these infants.”

Working in cooperation with the Chatfield BOL chapter led by Susan Moses, the food shelf tries to keep a bundle available at all times in case an expectant parent asks for help in clothing a new little one.

Collum noted that offering BOL bundles at the food shelf is an opportunity to streamline shopping for families in need of food assistance and help with preparing for the arrival of a new family member.

“It’s food for the family and supplies for the baby,” she said. “We’ve been working with Bundles of Love since the first year the food shelf opened, so at least three years, if not four. It’s one of those collaborative efforts where we thought we could help Bundles of Love distribute the bundles and where Bundles could help our food shelf clients.”

Over the years, Collum stated the food shelf has given away eight or so bundles, but most clients tend to be young families with school-age children.

“But you don’t have to be a client of the food shelf to get a bundle here, and we’ve made sure that people working at Olmsted Medical Center know that the bundles are here,” she added. “We’re open Tuesday nights and Friday mornings, so people can come in then — but they can also sign up for the food shelf, too. We also have all the information people need on energy assistance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They can pick up the forms here.”

BOL bundles may include a few diapers, and while the food shelf’s coordinators and volunteers would appreciate being able to offer diapers to parents in need on a regular basis, there are few opportunities to do so because donations of diapers are not common.

Furthermore, Collum observed that baby food, when occasionally available at the food shelf, is not counted as part of a family’s food poundage limit because it is for the smallest diners in town.

She commented, “Once in a while, if we do get diapers in, it’s not on a regular basis. If we do get diapers in, it’s because someone’s toddler has outgrown them and they’re getting rid of the last ones, but otherwise, we don’t get many diapers in. It is nice, though, that baby food isn’t counted as part of a family’s food count.”

The Chatfield Community Food Shelf is indeed the place to go to bring home the bacon and bundle a new baby if a family needs a hand up, and BOL’s seamstresses and quilters are pleased to be able to provide clean, warm clothing and blankets for Chatfield’s newest little residents.

The food shelf is open Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and Fridays from 9 to 10:30 a.m., and donations of baby food and diapers would be graciously accepted between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at 124 Winona St. SE, as would donations to BOL of fabric, yarn, sewing notions, thread and more for making bundles.

For more information on how to obtain a bundle or donate to the food shelf, log onto www.chatfieldfoodshelf.com, and for more information on how to donate to or participate in BOL, call Susan Moses at 507-273-9365 or 507-932-5941 or email her at srmoses@msn.com. To log onto the Bundles of Love website, go to www.bundlesoflove.org.