E-News from The Baby Fold

Christmas Greetings from The Baby Fold

two children painting pumpkins

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, do you ever feel like Charlie Brown, just wondering what Christmas is all about? Or the Grinch, grouchy and unable to experience the joy of the season?

At its heart, Christmas is about love—the love God showed us when He sent His Son to be born in a manger. For many, that love is seen in holiday gatherings where we enjoy time with family and friends.

At The Baby Fold, we get to experience that love year-round. 

It’s in the wonder of a new baby born in a Healthy Start family. It’s in the joy of a family healing from past trauma. It’s in the excitement over a child with autism meeting new milestones. 

God’s love simply exudes from the successes and steps toward healing in all aspects of our daily, critical work. 

And for that, we simply quote the angels at the end of Linus’s speech:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)

From The Baby Fold Family to Yours,

Merry Christmas and A Peaceful New Year

Healthy Start Celebrates the Season

A family poses in the photo booth at the Healthy Start party

Families in our Healthy Start program work hard to build strong, healthy foundations for their children. In-home visits and group activities help them make lasting memories while they nurture their bonds and add resources to their parenting toolkits.

The snowballs were flying inside Calvary United Methodist Church earlier this month when families from the Healthy Start program in McLean County gathered for their annual Christmas party. The laughter was contagious as the children sprinted around, trying to hit each other with the small, pom pom snowballs.

This year's Winter Wonderland party also featured penguin bowling and a winter photo booth. Families shared a meal together as they connected with each other and enjoyed the festivities. Children got creative as they decorated ornaments and foam picture frames to capture the memories they made that evening.

Santa himself even took a break from his very busy schedule to attend the party! He visited with the kids and listened to their Christmas wishes. (Santa later reported that all children in attendance were on his "Nice" list.)

A child enjoys supper at the Healthy Start party
A parent and children at the Healthy Start party
Children visit Santa at the Healthy Start party
children playing at the Healthy Start party

Healthy Start families in Champaign-Urbana also gathered together for some holiday cheer. They met at Prairie Farms in Champaign to attend the Winter Nights event held there each year.

The families sipped on hot cocoa as they walked around outside enjoying the twinkle and sparkle of the holiday light displays. They even got to take home dinner to enjoy in the warmth of their homes.

Healthy Start at Curtis Orchard
Winter Nights at Prairie Farms

Thanksgiving Feasts at Hammitt Schools

Thanksgiving meal at Hammitt

Each year the Thanksgiving meal at Hammitt School on Willow gives students, their families, and staff the opportunity to celebrate all they're thankful for while they enjoy spending time together. The event is also a true labor of love for The Baby Fold's Food Services team.

On a typical school day, Shelby McNeely, Support Services Supervisor, and her culinary team feed around 100 people lunch. With school staff and students' families joining in, they fed 210 people at the annual Thanksgiving dinner. They also accommodated various dietary restrictions and food allergies as necessary.

The amazing team of five began ordering supplies and making plans three full weeks ahead of the event. It was all hands on deck leading up to the meal, too, as the team prepared made from scratch dishes for attendees to enjoy.

Thanksgiving meal at Hammitt

The menu included ham, two types of green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and even homemade pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. 

The Food Services Team served the meal buffet style to students, families, and staff in the gym. Always ready to do what's best for the child, they also prepared individual plates for the students who would prefer a quieter meal with their families in their classrooms.

Even with the extra work involved, Shelby says that the Thanksgiving meal is the culinary team's favorite day of the year. The appreciation shown by students, families, and staff is just the icing on the pumpkin bars.

Thanksgiving meal at Hammitt
Thanksgiving meal at Hammitt

Students and staff at Hammitt School on Oglesby were also treated to an amazing feast catered by A to Z’s Catering and sponsored by Dr. Amyas Kabir. Dr. Kabir and his staff even helped serve the scrumptious meal of turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and more. Desserts and drinks were served by The Baby Fold's Clinical Team. 

Everyone loved the opportunity to come together to enjoy a delicious meal and give thanks in one place! Staff members had fun planning and setting up the event, and seeing the students' excitement made the day even sweeter for them.

Thanksgiving-themed activity paper tablecloths gave students the opportunity to color, do word searches, and play tic tac toe while they ate. They also had colored pencils and markers set up so students and staff could make "thank you" cards for Dr. Kabir and his staff. 

All of the Thanksgiving festivities at Hammitt School on Oglesby took place in the glow of a crackling fireplace video with instrumental Christmas music that was projected on a screen throughout the feast.

Thanksgiving meal served at Hammitt
Students and staff enjoy the meal

Wrapping Up Christmas Wishes

piles of gifts for Christmas Wish List

Thanks to your generosity, hundreds of local children will wake up to Christmas morning surprises and wishes coming true!

This year 805 children of The Baby Fold were part of our Christmas Wish List program—more children than ever before. You met our greater need with an even greater response, adopting each and every child's Christmas Wish List.

Many of these children would not have otherwise received any presents this year, but thanks to community members who funded or shopped for wish lists, they will now have surprises that were hand-picked just for them.

Thank you for supporting our kids and bringing the magic of the season into their homes this Christmas morning.

Community Partners Show Their Support

Two local businesses recently partnered with The Baby Fold to raise funds for our kids and families in very creative ways!

The Bloomington Hallmark store sold a Christmas ornament this fall and donated a percentage of the sales to The Baby Fold. The ornament sold out quickly, and Hallmark raised several hundred dollars to donate to The Baby Fold through those sales.

Gingerbread House Toys selected The Baby Fold as the beneficiary of their Wink Alliance fundraiser! Named for their famous shop dog “Wink,” this $25 limited edition (and doggone adorable) plush stuffed animal features our agency logo and will be sold throughout the store’s 2023 holiday season. 100% of the sales will be donated to The Baby Fold.

Thank you to all of our community partners for supporting our mission and helping change the lives of local kids!

Wink the dog with Wink the stuffie

National Adoption Month

November was National Adoption Month, and we'd like take one more moment to celebrate the experiences of a few of our own Baby Fold staff and their families whose lives have been touched by adoption. We embrace their stories and give voice to their loving journeys! 

National Adoption Month Video

Christmas Past

Imagine the Christmas traditions that have taken place since The Baby Fold's beginning in 1902!

No matter the era, children have always delighted in the mystery of Santa and the warmth of being surrounded with love during the holidays. Between the selfless care from staff and the generosity of our community, these photos express an enduring message of joy and wonder at Christmastime!

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