|Women from the St. Ann Parish Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary and the Craft Ministry make handmade blankets every month and deliver them to new mothers at Meharry Hospital. They also collect and donate other baby supplies like diapers, wipes, bottles and toiletry items to mothers in need.
At St. Ann Church in Nashville, two groups of women are putting their pro-life views into action by helping mothers in need.
The Ladies Auxiliary of Knights of Columbus Council 11925 at St. Ann’s has started the Wee Care Ministry to put together bags of baby supplies to take to new moms at Meharry General Hospital, many of whom are women in need.
One of the items in each bag is a baby blanket knitted or crocheted by the women in the parish’s Craft Ministry.
“The project is really important to us because it is a group of women directly helping other women and their children and supporting their choice to become mothers,” said Michele Somers of the Wee Care Ministry. “The mothers and staff nurses at Meharry constantly express their appreciation for the bags.”
Wee Care “was founded as an outreach charity to support mothers who are at Meharry/Metro General,” Somers said. “These are generally mothers who need some additional assistance that the hospital cannot provide.”
The women of Wee Care put together about 25 bags a month. The bags include many basic items that babies need. “We started with fewer bags but now deliver 25 bags per month to the hospital’s maternity ward,” Somers said.
“The bags are a nice tote sized bag that can be washed and used as a diaper bag. It is filled with diapers, wipes, an outfit of clothing, a hat, socks, a bib, a washcloth, bottle and pacifier and a complete toiletries assortment. We include a handmade blanket in each bag,” Somers said. “We also include a card for a discount on prescriptions they might need and a membership application for Dolly Parton’s free Books from Birth program.
“We deliver the bags one Saturday a month to the mothers who are on the floor,” she added. “The nurses keep the remaining bags and pass them out during the remainder of the month. Over 95 percent of the time the nurses have used all 25 bags and could have used more by the time we return the next month.”
Other parishioners at St. Ann and students from the parish school provide the materials Wee Care needs. “The program is funded by donations from the parish and friends of the parish,” Somers said. “Once a year we have a baby shower at the church after all the Masses. Parishioners bring items for the bags or donate money to purchase supplies and we have typical baby shower food with a cake, candy and nuts to celebrate.
“The children at St. Ann’s School also get involved by contributing items to allow them to have an out of uniform day,” Somers said. “This year we are having a baby bottle drive where parishioners take home an empty baby bottle and fill it with their extra change and return the bottle in about three weeks.
“As part of the Knights of Columbus we work on various church events with the Knights such as the annual golf tournament and some of the proceeds of those events go towards the Wee Care program,” she said. “So, some of the items are donated during the shower and the remainder we purchase with the donated funds.”
Ruth Neal and other parishioners in the Craft Ministry at St. Ann make the blankets for Wee Care. “I enjoy knitting and crocheting in my spare time, and about 12 years ago St. Ann parishioner Audrey Baker asked me if I’d be willing to knit baby blankets that the Wee Care ladies could include in their baby bags,” she explained.
But as a full time nurse at Heritage Medical Associates, Neal didn’t think she would have enough time to create as many blankets as Wee Care needed every month. “I talked to some other women in the parish who also like to knit and crochet to see about getting a group of us together to help out Wee Care, and everything snowballed from there. That’s how the Craft Ministry began,” she said.
Neal has also received support from Heritage Medical patients and a friend living in New York. “There’s a lady I know who lives in an assisted living facility in upstate New York. She’s 93 and she sends me blankets that she’s knit for the babies. She’ll send boxes of them to me, 16-20 at a time. I also have Heritage Medical patients bring blankets to me when they come for their doctor’s visits.”
Additionally, the Craft Ministry makes blankets for military veterans and scarves for homeless people in downtown Nashville.
“One of the ladies in the Craft Ministry is a dietician for three different VA hospitals, so we make lap blankets for the veterans there,” Neal said. “And in downtown Nashville, we do what is called ‘scarf bombing.’ When it’s cold outside, we go to Centennial Park or another public space where homeless people tend to congregate, and set up a station where we give away scarves that we’ve knit. We put up a sign with a message: ‘If you or someone you know needs a scarf, come get one.’”
“It’s been overwhelming to get involved in the Craft Ministry and help with Wee Care,” Neal said. “It’s amazing to see how support for both groups has grown over the years. And it gets emotional sometimes when we drop off the baby items at Meharry. Some of these new moms were upset because they didn’t have an outfit for the baby to wear home, and they’re overjoyed when they get a baby bag from us.
“We just want to be there to support these women,” Neal said, “and we pray that they and their babies go on to have a good life.” Women from the St. Ann Parish Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary and the Craft Ministry make handmade blankets every month and deliver them to new mothers at Meharry Hospital. They also collect and donate other baby supplies like diapers, wipes, bottles and toiletry items to mothers in need.