Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Pet Project

Every mom needs a pet project.  (Right?!)  As Cade approached his first birthday, I felt strongly that I wanted to do something to advocate and encourage new moms and dads who've just had a baby with Down syndrome.  Then a friend posted a photo of a welcome basket she received in the hospital.

After thinking on the idea for a couple of months, I set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations and we were off and running.

Here's what I've done.  You can do it, too.

Collect Donations
I couldn't afford to build the baskets myself, so I thought I'd ask friends and family for some help.  I chose GoFundMe as the donation collection website.  They accept credit cards, which was nice.  If I did it again, I'd try to find a site that also accepts Paypal.  GoFundMe does take a percentage of donations (but they all do).   I asked around to find out how many babies are born with Ds in our area each year.  I wanted to fund-raise once, buy once, and build once.  Ten baskets should last a year, so that was my goal.  Then I made lists of what I thought should go into the baskets.  I played around with items and costs until I hit my magic number: $50 per basket.  So my goal was set...I needed $500.

I was very blessed in that my friends and family were more than happy to help.  Within just 2 days, my goal was surpassed.  Time to buy!

Choosing & Buying
Every item I chose for the baskets has a purpose.  I polled my friends to make sure I was on the right track.  Two local friends, Tami and Teresa, helped me choose the books and make sure I wasn't wacky about how we were doing this.

I have one buying secret that most of you won't have...I own a baby store.  I planned to utilize my wholesale discounts wherever possible.  Also I planned to ask some of our vendors for donations.  You may not have the contacts that I do, but you can still reach out and ask for donations.  I found that if I limited the number...just 10...companies didn't mind sending a donation.

Some hospitals will call a local organization when a new baby is born and allow a visit from that organization.  But others, like ours, will not due to privacy laws.  We have two local hospitals.  For the first, I called the lactation consultants.  They have an office on the maternity floor and were among the first into our room.  I knew they'd be able to identify new mamas and get a basket to them.  I was right, they're thrilled to help.

For our second hospital, my friend Teresa knows the head nurse.  She called her friend and bingo, another hospital thrilled to help distribute baskets.  I never dreamed it would be so easy to get the baskets to the moms.

The Goodies

  1. {Unexpected} book - Our own story is in this book, as well as Tami's, my friend mentioned above.  I wasn't sure the book would be ready in time, but happy day, it was!  I liked this book over others because it was specifically about diagnosis stories and it was very, very current.   I waited until sent me a 25% discount code.  
  2. Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parents' Guide - this book is loved and hated within the Ds community.  Love it because it's very informative, pretty current, and straightforward.  There's very little fluff.  But it's also disliked because it details pretty much every medical issue possible.  This can be really scary for new parents and pretty depressing.  But after polling my friends and talking at length with Tami and Teresa, I felt this was the best choice for an informational book.  
  3. Muslin swaddling blanket - every baby needs one.  Period.  They're so soft, so handy, and work for practically any baby need.  Planet Wise, one of my favorite vendors, donated these for us.
  4. Baby leggings - leg warmers for babies.  These are The Bomb for hospital stays and they're just plain adorable.  These were also donated by Planet Wise.
  5. "My extra chromosome makes me extra cute" Onesie -  I found this on Etsy while I was pregnant.  TOO CUTE.  Sparkles.  I contacted the owner and she was willing to give us a discount on a bulk order.  I bought 0-3 month so that most babies could wear it right away. matches the blankets and baby leggings.  Score, now we have a whole outfit!
  6. Wubbanub pacifier - I've been a fan of these for years, since my first child was a baby.  Cute animal holds a paci in place.  But I found that with Cade's lower muscle tone, these were very helpful, not only in helping him keep his paci in his mouth, but in developing his muscles needed for suckling.  These were a must-have in the baskets.  My own store donated these and I'm happy to help you include them in your baskets.  
  7. Toy - I wanted a rattle or teething toy.  Our occupational therapist recommends a rattle with a skinny handle or ring, something very easy for a baby with lower muscle tone to hold.  Another of my favorite vendors, Green Team Distribution, carries Green Toys and she was happy to donate some key rings. 
  8. Natural baby wash - our babies have such delicate skin that a nurse in the hospital recommended we use only natural baby shampoos without harsh chemicals.  Thankfully for me, Green Team Distribution carries several lines.  My favorite is Hip Peas and that is what we use in our house for all of our kids.  Green Team donated full-size bottles for us.
  9. Gift baskets - As I discussed ideas with my local friends, I realized that a "basket" wasn't going to cut it.  Too bulky, not durable, and I wanted something easy to store and that would be useful once the families get home.  What's better than a fabric bin?  I found some very serviceable, yet affordable, bins at Walmart.  They had several colors to choose from; I went with a conservative ivory.
  10. Brochures & pamphlets from anyone I could think of.  I contacted NDSS and they sent me some wonderful booklets and congratulations cards written and signed by Chris Burke ("Corky" from Life Goes On).  Chris has Down syndrome but his handwriting is perfect!  I also asked our Early Intervention and she brought some pamphlets explaining when and how to hook up with EI services.  I also printed some brochures from the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, a brand new website dedicated to helping families with a diagnosis.

Photos, photos, photos
A blog's just not a blog without photos.  So here you go!


For all you've done, and all you do, thank you.  We received 21 donations through the GoFundMe site and 2 from our vendors.  I couldn't have done this without you.  The baskets are complete and I plan to deliver the first ones to the hospitals next week. 

If you want to make baskets for your local hospital, feel free to follow what I've done or email me at  I'm happy to share.


  1. You are wonderful! Thanks for taking steps to make others lives a little nicer.. I'm sure your community is lucky to have you!