Savannah charities reach out to families of infants in need
The Telfair Birthplace at St. Josephâ€™s Candler just received its first donation of hand-sewn outfits from the new Savannah chapter of the Threads of Love Foundations.
The nonprofit sewing ministry based out of Watson, La., creates burial gowns and preemie clothes, with the help of many volunteers, and donates them to appreciative hospitals and parents enduring extremely difficult situations.
Angela Lee is the wife and mother of three who started the Savannah chapter of Threads of Love after reading about it on a blog.
â€śI have sewn for a very long time,â€ť she says. â€śI donâ€™t knit or crochet, but I knew I could put my hands on some people who did. I thought, you know, why not use my gifts that God gave me to bless someone else.â€ť
Beth Unterseher, who helped deliver the first batch of items to St. Josephâ€™s Candler, was doing costuming for theater productions at Savannah Christian Church when she learned about this charitable outlet for her talent.
â€śIâ€™ve only been knitting about a year, actually,â€ť Beth admits. But that hasnâ€™t stopped her from venturing into the production of tiny booties, hats and outfits. Threads of Love has copyrighted patterns that are appropriate for a 9-ounce miscarriage on up to a full-term baby.
â€śIn my family, we have lost very small children, so just the thought of being able to help and do something with that was just great,â€ť Beth says.
Threads of Love founder Sissy Davis recalls its humble beginnings. She and her husband have a blended family of five grown children, and in 1993 she was still a working school bus driver. Sissy wanted something more, though. In her words, she had â€śwarmed a pewâ€ť for many years, but she didnâ€™t feel that she had given uniquely of herself in a way that she might have.
â€śI prayed that others would see Jesus in me,â€ť Sissy remembers. â€śI didnâ€™t really realize what I was praying for.â€ť
Soon she learned about a request made by Dr. Rachel Houseman, a pediatrician at Earl K. Long Hospital in East Baton Rouge. Dr. Houseman wondered if any volunteers would be willing to make internment gowns. â€śMy mother lost a little boy who lived eight and a half hours â€” when I was 12,â€ť Sissy explains. She believes God put a tender place in her heart for a kindness that would be asked of her years later.
By 1994, Sissy was retired. Sheâ€™d recruited some volunteers through local church bulletins, but the seamstresses could not keep up with the demand.
Thatâ€™s when a reporter doing a story on the local infant mortality rate interviewed Sissy. The Associated Press picked up that story, and then a call came from CNNâ€™s â€śAcross America with Larry Woods.â€ť
Good press kept coming, and in October 1997, the first chapter of Threads of Love was started in Alpharetta.
Today, there are 138 active chapters, including one in Panama, two in Canada, one in Newfoundland, one in England and one in South Africa.
Marianne Fields, director of the Telfair Birthplace, was among the women who received the donation from Threads of Love.
â€śWe are just so pleased for the giving gesture,â€ť she says. â€śWeâ€™re very fortunate. The community is always giving back to us.â€ť
Tonya McKinny was born at Candler, and so was her 2-day-old daughter, Dayla, pictured with a handmade blanket and doll by Threads of Love.
â€śI think itâ€™s a really sweet gesture, and Iâ€™m glad there are lots of prayers going out for her,â€ť Tonya says.
Threads of Love is open to all faiths. Those wishing to contribute should contact Angela Lee firstname.lastname@example.org.