Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer
December 27, 2023 // Diocese

Hand-Crafted Items Put to Good Use

Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer

Do you love to knit or crochet? Does every child and grandchild in your family already have a handmade blanket, hat, and scarf? If their closets are already stuffed from the things you’ve made, there are many others in the community who could use your help as the weather turns colder.

The Christ Child Society of South Bend has a suggestion: hand-knit or crochet a baby blanket, a sweater, or a little hat for a newborn. You can choose the colors and patterns, as long as you don’t use wool, which can irritate baby skin. The Christ Child Society would also be delighted to accept handmade hats and mittens to go along with the new coats they give to every preschool or grade-school child referred to their generosity.

Nationally, the Christ Child Society was founded 136 years ago in order to provide layettes to newborn babies. To this day, all 46 chapters begin with this objective before adding other items or services for under-resourced children, such as coats and clothing, or educational programs. Babies born to moms up to 150% of the poverty level in St. Joseph County receive a layette from the Christ Child Society of South Bend. According to Layette Chair Anne Choinacky, “Each ‘baby shower in a bag’ includes a blanket, hat, sweater, towels, play outfits, body suits, gowns, bottles, sleepers, receiving blankets, and the book, ‘Goodnight Moon.’” Those who are born early receive both a preemie layette and a newborn layette to use later.  Layettes are also provided for foster children and babies whose families have lost everything in a disaster, such as a house fire. This amounts to more than 300 layettes a year, as well as 50 preemie layettes. In fact, the Christ Child Society of South Bend had already donated 360 layettes between January and mid-November of 2023.

Including handmade garments and blankets in every layette is a treasured tradition. One mom recently told members she has the sweater her mother received when she was born and plans to pass it on to her baby. While the homemade blankets can be any size, volunteer Susan Wendowski notes that “some blanket patterns include decorative holes. Although these are very attractive, they should be avoided. Holes that are too large allow baby’s legs and arms to become tangled in them.” Sweaters, in sizes 3 to 9 months, may have long or short sleeves. Hats of all colors, shapes, and patterns do a wonderful job of keeping a tiny head warm. Preemie size hats are especially helpful.

Members of the Christ Child Society make some of the items themselves, and others come from crafting circles, local churches, and individuals of all ages. A recent Facebook post was shared hundreds of times, leading to a generous response from knitters and crocheters. However, there is still a great and ongoing need.

Donations can be dropped off at the Christ Child Clothing Center any Tuesday or Wednesday morning, or you can mail them to 2366 Miracle Lane, Mishawaka, IN, 46545. A volunteer can even come and pick up your handiwork. To arrange that, e-mail [email protected]. Anne Choinacky, Chair of the Layette Committee, will be happy to field your questions about the project.

Although the need for hand-crocheted or knitted layette items is year-round, Christmas is a special time of year for a society dedicated to the Christ Child and eagerly seeking Him in the face of every new baby.

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