E-news from The Baby Fold

Adoption Support Staff Enhance Skills at Refuge Ranch

Activities at Refuge Ranch

The Baby Fold’s Adoption Support and Training team recently embarked on a unique learning experience at Refuge Horse Ranch, near Springfield, Illinois.


Refuge Ranch has been a valued referral source for The Baby Fold's Adoption Support program, and as interest in animal-assisted therapy grows, the decision to collaborate was a natural step forward. The focus of the visit was to gain a deeper understanding of the therapeutic supports available in our community and how these supports can help the families we serve.

During their time at Refuge Ranch, the Baby Fold team connected with horses in a unique and meaningful way. Instead of relying on intellect, staff practiced engaging their senses, forming connections through emotions and instincts. Staff pushed themselves out of their comfort zones, reflecting on how this discomfort and vulnerability could parallel the experiences of their clients.


This immersive exercise not only provided staff with a valuable perspective but also helped them build empathy, enhance their communication skills, and gain a deeper understanding of the emotional challenges faced by the children and families they serve.

Activities at Refuge Ranch
Activities at Refuge Ranch

Gingerbread House Toys Announces The Baby Fold for 2023 Wink Alliance

Gingerbread House Toys has selected The Baby Fold as the beneficiary of the 2023 Wink Alliance fundraiser! 100% of sales from the limited edition ‘Wink’ stuffed animal, named after their shop dog, will be donated to The Baby Fold. The plush toy is $25 each and features a blue bandana with The Baby Fold’s logo.


Kate Green, owner of Gingerbread House Toys, shares, “We love giving back to the community and partnering with organizations that help kids, especially when they have been doing it for over 120 years, like The Baby Fold!

The limited edition stuffed animal, a floppy gray and white doodle, can be purchased online, at Gingerbread House Toys, or at The Baby Fold’s 30th Annual Festival of Trees – just in time for the gift-giving season!

Fairview Elementary Offers Fun Family Engagement Initiatives

Fairview Elementary School students were welcomed with cheers, high-fives, and warm smiles one recent morning, as community members came together to show their support during the '100 Caring Adults' event. The Normal Fire and Police Departments, staff and volunteers from The Baby Fold, and even Reggie Redbird extended their warm greetings to students. Many of these same community supporters returned for Fairview's engaging Truck-or-Treat event for students and families.


Lead Community Schools Coordinator, Rebecca Kinsey, helped organize both events. The Baby Fold’s Community School program is a collaborative partnership between The Baby Fold and Unit 5 that builds stronger connections between schools, families, and community, identifying student and family needs and providing vital resources for success.


Next month, Fairview will host a wellness event for students and families, featuring stations that focus on physical, emotional, and mental health. Community members can show their support by volunteering at the event.

Reggie Redbird with a student

Shop to Support The Baby Fold with ShopRaise

Mother and child

Shopping for your everyday needs can now double as charitable support for The Baby Fold through ShopRaise. Whether you're stocking up on groceries, updating your wardrobe, or planning your next vacation, the ShopRaise app transforms your daily spending into charitable donations – at zero cost to you. It's like the new Amazon Smile!


ShopRaise, a user-friendly app and browser extension, allows up to 10% of your purchases to go directly to The Baby Fold. As you shop at major retailers like Walmart, Lowes, Walgreens, Macy's, and Home Depot, you also support the children and families served by The Baby Fold. If ShopRaise doesn't partner with your favorite store, there's still a way to give back: you can purchase a gift card for that store through ShopRaise. For example, if you purchase Amazon gift cards through ShopRaise, The Baby Fold receives 1% of your total purchase.


With over 1,000 retailers and gift cards to shop from, it’s a great way to start holiday shopping while supporting local kids and families. Simply click here to get the ShopRaise app and start shopping to support The Baby Fold. 

A 'Unicorn' Calms Children at Camp Take-A-Break

Winnie the therapy dog

Technically, Winnie is a 3.5-year-old Goldendoodle, but her rainbow tail, small rainbow insignia, and gentle demeanor have earned her the affectionate nickname of a unicorn among the children she soothes.


Winnie, a certified therapy dog with a history of bringing comfort to healthcare centers, nursing homes, schools, and college dorms, is now making weekend visits to Camp Take-A-Break, a respite care program for families in The Baby Fold's Adoption Support and Preservation program. This program gives adopted children the chance to enjoy a weekend at camp surrounded by their peers, while offering their families the much-needed opportunity to recharge.


Winnie's presence at camp has proven to be very influential. In a touching testament to her impact, one camper with anxiety managed to stay at camp for an entire weekend, a significant milestone, thanks to the therapeutic comfort provided by Winnie's presence.

Winnie's interaction with campers not only calms their anxieties but also assists in emotional regulation. She's a wonderful addition to the transformative experience at The Baby Fold's Camp Take-A-Break.

Community Members Bless Local Children this Holiday Season 

Generous donors are fulling the Christmas wishes of local children through The Baby Fold’s Christmas Wish List program. Gracious strangers ensure that regardless of the difficult circumstances children are facing, they still have the opportunity to experience the warmth and delight of the holiday season, fostering a sense of hope and community for all involved.


One wish list recipient turned supporter shared her heartfelt journey, “My twins were 6 months old in 2017 when I left their abusive father. As a single mother without a high school diploma, I struggled to support the three of us. We were starting over with almost nothing.


I could barely feed by babies and myself, much less buy them any Christmas gifts. It was only because of the kindness of strangers that my girls had gifts to open their first four Christmases.


"By 2021, I earned my GED, found a steady job, and managed to purchase the twins' Christmas gifts myself. Last year I pinched pennies and was able to not only buy their gifts, but also pay it forward, too. My girls and I adopted a child's Christmas Wish List through The Baby Fold. I was SO PROUD to be able to help another family, especially after relying on similar help myself in the past.


"This year, the girls and I are adopting two Christmas Wish Lists. I love that I can teach them the joy of helping others, and I hope we can keep increasing the number of lists we adopt in the future!"


This story of resilience demonstrates the meaningful impact of The Baby Fold's Christmas Wish List program. A little generosity can make a world of difference to a child's holiday dreams and also alleviates stress for worried parents.

New Attractions at The Baby Fold's Festival of Trees

Young child at the Festival of Trees

For three decades, The Baby Fold's Festival of Trees has been a treasured holiday tradition for Central Illinois families. This year the fundraiser will include an array of exciting new attractions to mark the 30th anniversary of the event. Families can meet beloved characters like Elsa from Disney's Frozen and Spiderman during Avanti’s Family Night on Friday, Nov. 17, from 5-7 pm. Illinois State University's acapella group, the Clef Hangers, will provide life entertainment during the same time.


On Saturday, Nov. 18, guests can explore a Holiday Market with 11 handpicked vendors, offering a perfect opportunity to kickstart their holiday shopping. The market boasts a variety of handcrafted items, from jewelry and art to pottery, candles, wooden goods, and more.


Throughout the event, children can enjoy a festive scavenger hunt while parents can bid on beautiful holiday decor with a new and improved auction-bidding platform. This advanced software allows for high-definition photos of the custom-created Christmas trees and décor, enhancing the bidding experience.

The Baby Fold's 30th Annual Festival of Trees takes place Nov. 16-18 at the Interstate Center in Bloomington and online at FestofTrees.org.

Click to buy tickets
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