Charity makes big difference in little lives
On November 1, 2014, our lives changed forever. We became new parents when our son, Camden, was born prematurely via emergency C-section at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and was sent immediately to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Our little boy was a blessing; a perfect blend of his mommy and daddy, and our pride and joy. But the reality of our situation hit us hard and unexpectedly.
The rare pregnancy complications that sent us to the hospital were too much for Camden to bear, and we had to make the unthinkable decision to remove life support and let him go. After months of anticipating new parenthood, we never could have imagined ourselves in this situation, preparing to hold our son for both the first and last time. After being showered with love by his family and friends, we said goodbye to our sweet boy, our NICU fighter, our angel. Camden has taught us so much, but mostly how precious and fragile is life. He will be forever loved and in our hearts.
No matter the outcome, we can speak for all parents when we say that comfort is needed while your baby fights for his/her life in the NICU. We would like to share two memories of comfort that we experienced during our NICU stay. First, our son was fortunate to be in the care of an exceptional NICU nurse; we think of her as Camden’s angel on Earth. We can’t say enough about Michelle and the team of NICU clinicians and social workers who work long hours (often past their shift’s end) to care for their tiny patients. Michelle guided and supported us, and we will be forever grateful.
Second, in the frantic trip to the hospital, we found ourselves without a carefully packed overnight bag. As fate would have it, Camden’s grandma miraculously brought with her a polka-dotted blanket that she had just purchased, and we found great solace in this gift. It was used as a cozy swaddle blanket to cuddle and take pictures with Camden in the hospital, and now it is a treasured keepsake that is priceless to us.
Soon after returning home, we felt the need to comfort other parents facing both life and loss in the NICU. We wanted to make a positive change in the world to honor our son’s memory. His grandma’s fortuitous gift that brought us some peace in the midst of such a great loss was our inspiration. While snuggling with Camden’s polka-dotted blanket, the idea was born to start a non-profit organization that donates homemade blankets as gifts of comfort to NICU babies and their families.
After finishing our business plan and a lot of paperwork, Camden’s Comfort Project (CCP) was founded. CCP is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that operates solely on the contributions of individuals and businesses who want to help support our mission. The Board of Directors is made up of an all-volunteer group of family and friends that donate their time and efforts so that parents can receive a comforting blanket for their baby in the NICU. Since our inception in mid-2015, Camden’s Comfort has created and donated 600 blankets to NICU facilities in the Chicagoland area (including Advocate’s Children’s Hospitals and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center), as well as some of our newer hospitals that are located throughout Illinois, Iowa and Texas. We have been successful by partnering with businesses, church groups, Girl Scout troops, groups of friends and many others to host blanket parties where we construct the blankets for donation. CCP also strongly encourages others to create blankets and donate them on their own, providing a do-it-yourself video on our website and offering advice for anyone interested in hosting a blanket party. Each year, Team Camden Strong also raises money and awareness for the March for Babies walk to support the March of Dimes.
Since Camden was born there, Illinois Masonic has a special place in our hearts. It is important for us to maintain a close relationship with their social workers and keep them supplied with CCP blankets. We have donated more than 350 blankies to their NICU thus far. We have also been privileged to co-host blanket parties with clinical and social work representatives from Illinois Masonic, and our most recent event for the Advocate Associate Council yielded 30 blankets. Although we are still in our infancy as a non-profit organization, Camden’s Comfort is proud of the success we’ve had so far, and we thank every one of our partners and volunteers for their help along the way.
Camden’s spirit lives on in our hearts and in the fabric of the blankets we donate. Each “thank you” from a parent is a reminder that all of the time spent cutting, tying, sewing and washing is worth it. We are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the little and plan to continue spreading Camden’s comfort to NICUs near and far.
Charitable gifts to Camden’s Comfort Project provide financial support to cover the costs of fabric, thread, patches and other supplies to create the homemade baby blankets. Follow Camden’s Comfort on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for updates on the organization and their mission.
About the Author
Lauren and Alex Humes are co-founders of Camden’s Comfort Project and proud parents to an angel.