Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hope in a Box

Some days are more memorable than others. 

This was just such a day. Some days are throw-aways or do-overs. But not this day. Because on this day, I put hope in a box and tied it up with a jute twine bow. 

This day was years in the making. 

This day was the culmination of months and months of planning. This day wishing turned into reality. This day gave my pain meaning. This day gave my baby's death purpose. Somehow, putting hope in a box and tying it up with a bow for another mother who lost her baby helped answer the "why" of losing mine.

It was for this:

To show her that she is not alone. To remind her that there is hope. To point her to the One who can fuse the fragments of her shattered heart back together in the fire and make beauty from the ashes. 

Each box represents a baby that has died. Each box represents a grieving mother who is still anchored in hope. That's what we do. For we do not grieve like those who have no hope. We are Hope Mommies and our hope is in Christ alone.

It was a tremendous honor and a privilege to work alongside fellow hope mommies and others who support us in this worthwhile endeavor. I wish there were not a need for one more hope box ever again. But because the need is unfortunately so great, I wish every day could be a hope box party day. 

If you feel called to host your own hope box party, here's a step-by-step guide of how to turn that dream into a reality:

Step One: Gather the Troops
It's hard to do this alone. So don't. Find other Hope Moms in your area who feel called to support you in this endeavor. Ask your family, friends, church members, co-workers, and neighbors to help "hold up your arms" in this battle (see Exodus 17:12).

Step Two: Set Realistic Goals
Each hope box costs about $50 to produce including materials and shipping. Decide on a goal that is doable for you and your troops. You need to raise about $500 to make 10 hope boxes, $1000 to make 20 hope boxes, etc. Set a realistic goal and give yourselves plenty of time for fundraising.

Step Three: Contact Your Local Hospital
When you fill out the Hope Box Party Interest form, you will need to have the name and contact info for the hospital where you will be donating the boxes. Set up a meeting with the bereavement coordinator in the labor and delivery unit. Tell her (or him) about Hope Mommies and our goal of putting hope boxes in the hands of grieving mothers. Establish a good relationship with this person because you will be working together a lot!

Step Four: Fill Out a Hope Box Party Interest Form
Now that you've got your ducks in a row, it's time to fill out the Hope Box Party Interest Form. Then, you will receive an e-mail from the Hope Box Coordinator and you will work with her on the timeline for fundraising and setting the date for your box party. Keep in mind that you need to allow at least a two week-window between the end of your fundraiser and your box party so that Hope Mommies can ship all of your materials. Yes, Hope Mommies sends you everything you need to put in the boxes including a Bible, a journal, handprint/footprint cards for baby, Spotify playlist for bereaved moms, Heaven by Randy Alcorn, the new Anchored book by Hope Mommies founder Erin Cushman, Hope Mommies brochures, bookmarks, and bracelets, and other comforting items like a candle, coffee, tea, and lip balm.

Step Four: Fundraising
Create an online facebook event to raise money for your cause. Online donations work best because they are secure, tax-deductible, and Hope Mommies keeps a record of who gives so that you can donate a box in their name or their baby's name. You can also raise money the old fashioned way through bake sales or car washes and then just mail in a check payable to Hope Mommies to the following address:
Hope Mommies
328 West Main Street
Kerville, TX  78028

Step Five: Buy the Boxes and the Bling
Hope Mommies will send you a gift card from your donated funds to purchase the photo boxes and decorations or you can choose to purchase them yourself so that all of your donations go toward more hope boxes. Either way, stores like Michael's, Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's have tons of them and they are often on sale. Plan a fun shopping trip with your troops to get supplies. Some things you will need: Glue guns/sticks, decorative paper, ribbons, buttons, fabric flowers, scripture stickers, and of course, jute twine to tie it all up with a bow!

Step Six: Time to Party!
I can tell you from experience that it is helpful to delegate responsibilities. An assembly line works best. You need someone to fill the boxes, someone writing personalized notes for each box (preferably a hope mommy), someone in charge of dedicating each box in the name of a donor or hope baby, and someone decorating the boxes. It also helps if you have someone there to watch the kiddos and someone who is taking pictures to document the whole shebang for posterity. F.Y.I. Our party took about four hours to finish 40 boxes.

Step 7: Labor & Delivery
This is the best part of all. This is what makes your labor of love worth it. The delivery. The bereavement coordinator for the hospital met us at the curb with a cart to haul the hope boxes up to the labor and delivery floor. All the nurses and even some doctors came out in droves to meet us and shake our hands and give us hugs. They really rolled out the red carpet for us! They even let us put on bunny suits and personally walk them into the operating room where they were to be stored until needed. It was an amazing experience!

So, there you have it. I hope this was helpful and we wish you lots of luck in planning your own Hope Box parties!

Boxing Up Hope,

Andrea, Jennifer, Katy, Bev, Emily C. and Emily W.

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