Two and a half years ago, my girlfriends and I were en route to our bestie’s baby shower in Cincinnati when we got a call from her husband. They were headed to the hospital due to possibly being in labor…10 weeks early.
What started out as a day set aside to celebrate the mother and baby-to-be, ended up with Sarah and her husband, Blake, holding their baby boy, Grant, in their arms and introducing him to his tribe of aunties.
In those first moments as parents, especially parents of a preemie, your mind is racing with all of the “what ifs” of the road ahead. I’ll let Grant’s Gifts founder, Sarah Thomas, take it from here to share their NICU journey and the non-profit organization that grew out of their experience. Grant’s Gifts is a sponsored program of Vivian’s Victory, a non-profit organization that meets urgent, personalized needs to provide financial and emotional stability for families whose child faces a poor prenatal diagnosis or other prolonged illness.
What experience led you to start Grant’s Gifts ?
Our son, Grant, was born 10 weeks early and spent 6 weeks in the NICU. After Grant had been in the NICU a little over a week, I walked in one morning to find him in a onesie. Because of his early birth and the whirlwind of being in the NICU it had not dawned on me that he could wear clothes. He was cozy in a temperature controlled incubator but would soon graduate to an open air crib. Walking in and seeing him in clothes for the first time stopped me in my tracks. That tiny piece of cloth meant the world to me. I immediately sent my husband out to find preemie clothes for Grant.
Sadly, he came up pretty empty handed. The few stores he visited only had a couple options. I knew this was a problem that needed fixed. Preemie babies are just as deserving as full term babies and should have access to clothes as well. NICU parents do not have of extra time to be shopping for preemie clothes that are not readily available. Because we experienced this first hand and the absolute JOY it brought us to see Grant in clothes, we wanted to share that joy with other NICU families.
Can you share a bit about the services you provide?
Currently we provide a preemie outfit to families when they graduate from Good Samaritan hospital in Cincinnati. We also mail out and distribute outfits to families around the country that contact us for help or are referred to us by family and friends.
What types of items can be donated to Grant’s Gifts?
We take any new or gently used preemie clothes. This includes sleepers, onesies, pants, tops, jackets, hats and preemie diapers. We also accept monetary donations which are used to buy preemie outfits for families in need.
How can readers get involved?
Readers can get involved by visiting our website at www.grantsgifts.org and/or mailing donations to: PO Box 498907, Cincinnati, OH 45249.
Is there a specific example you can share of how a preemie outfit has changed someone’s life?
Just recently a friend reached out whose sister was in the process of adopting a preemie. She contacted me and I was elated to give her three outfits, preemie diapers and a helpful resource book. Approximately a week later she told me her sister was so very thankful for the donations and overjoyed to have them. She said she only had six outfits that fit her sweet little girl and three were ones that Grant’s Gifts had donated to her.
I immediately packaged up a few more outfits to give her so that she had more than six. We all know babies can go through a lot of outfits in one day and I hated the thought that she could be spending all her time doing laundry just to make sure her baby had clean clothes to wear.
Any idea how many preemie outfits have been donated since your launch in 2018?
At last count we have been given around 200 outfits to be donated. Lately there does not seem to be a week that goes by that I do not come home to a package from a friend or stranger filled with preemie clothes. I will never tire of that joy and surprise when I check the mail.
Any idea how many people who have had the chance to benefit from Grant’s Gifts?
To date we have donated approximately 100 outfits since starting last Fall. To date we've shipped outfits anywhere from New York to California and been able to hand deliver outfits to local families as well.
Where do you see Grant’s Gifts in the next 3 years?
In 3 years I hope to have enough clothes being donated annually to fulfill every need and family at our local hospitals. To date, Good Samaritan hospital has about 800 preemies a year. I would love to know that all of those babies in addition to other local hospitals are receiving clothes for all of their patients. And while we ship across the US, it is a dream of mine to have our program fully established in our hospitals regionally and nationally as well. I would also love the opportunity to partner with national brands and garner their support for getting clothes into the hands of NICU families.
How can we follow along on the great work that Grant’s Gifts is doing?
Feeling inspired to donate? If you have preemie outfits taking up a tub in your basement or know of friends and family that have some on hand, this is such a worthy charity to pass those outfits along to, knowing they will be placed in the hands of families who need them most.