I discovered Matthew’s Gift thanks to Ravelry’s Charity Knitting group. While perusing their “Currently Accepting Donations” thread, I was drawn to a simple request for knitted burial outfits for babies gone too soon.
Through her Facebook page for the group, I found the blog post written by the Melissa Coffey, the group’s founder, in which she shared the very personal story of her own loss. I was so touched by the post and intrigued by her group that I wanted to know more.
I am so fortunate that Melissa agreed to answer my questions about her group, and I feel privileged to be able to share her story and that of her organization with my readers.
So let’s learn about Matthew’s Gift!
What Matthew’s Gift Is All About
I asked Melissa what led her to start Matthew’s Gift, and here’s what she had to say:
“For the past year I have been heavily involved in fundraising for something called the Cuddle Cot. I am a Jamberry representative and we created awareness nail art, donating all our commission to the project, raising over $2,000 for a charity.
“In June, we found the charity was not doing nice things, and it created a huge whirlwind of drama including reporting her for tax fraud and misappropriation of funds. The person we were told needed this Cuddle Cot immediately was the beautiful amazing Amanda Plunkett, mother of Baby Owen, who had limp wall body complex. As soon as she knew his diagnosis was terminal, she knew she needed to do something.
“Thus she created Owen’s Gift, which is absolutely thriving. She delivers bereavement boxes to all her local hospitals and even funeral homes. The breakdown of the fundraiser had us talking on the phone late into the night, and she encouraged me to start Matthew’s Gift.
“For some reason, it never occurred to me that I could do such a thing too. But once I decided to do it, I was full on. I met with the bereavement coordinator for my most local hospital to show her the items, got the approval and am almost ready to make our first delivery!”
Melissa’s ultimate goal for Matthew’s Gift is most powerfully expressed in her own words.
“We want to supply every single parent that will not go home with a baby in the Augusta [Georgia] area with a box of keepsakes that show their baby was loved, mattered, and existed.
“People really can’t understand what it’s like. You go home [after losing a baby] and there’s nothing. Nothing. You don’t have ‘congratulations’ cards, you have sympahty cards. You start to lose that vision of what your baby looked like, how big he or she was.
“We also want to send the message that someone out there cared about this baby. It was a baby. You are a mom. It’s still so taboo, and women are told to ‘get over it.’ Some women are even told, especially with earlier losses, ‘It wasn’t a real baby.’ Just no.
“The entire purpose of this project is to recognize their beautiful lives as having mattered, having existed. Owen’s Gift was first, Matthew’s Gift came next, and now we have several other loss moms out there starting up too! They are all very unique, but they will all be box ministries that seek to have hand-crafted items.
“There are bigger ministries out there that mass-produce little things, and we are the opposite of that. Each box is hand-assembled by the loss parent in charge. If we get an excess of, say, hats, we will be passing those onto any other box ministry that is in need. (Amanda has one lady that makes TONS of hats and blankets, so she sent some my way to get me off to a good start!)”
How You Can Help Matthew’s Gift
I knew that readers would want to help this wonderful new program in any way possible, so I made it a point to ask her how we could help — not just with knitting, but in any other way. Here’s how!
1. Spread the word. If you have friends who enjoy supporting charities – not only in knitting, but in other ways — let them know about Matthew’s Gift. Here’s what Melissa says about the need for publicity:
“Any publicity will be a huge help. Here’s why. 1 in 4 women have experienced this loss. That number is gigantic. And often times these women feel isolated and alone. When they hear about this, so many loss moms want to be involved because it gives their loss meaning. It’s a baton that we are passing that we hate passing, but we want to be there in some tangible way to help ease the pain of other parents on this journey. Because quite frankly, it sucks!”
2. Donate items. Their greatest needs right now are boxes and books. The bereavement boxes contain a set of grief books, one for mothers and one for fathers. You can find them on Amazon here:
If you would like to donate boxes or books, you can send a message to Melissa via Facebook or Ravelry, or if you’re more comfortable with good old email, you can find her email address here. She can give you the information you need to purchase boxes and/or books and get them to her.
And, of course, if you would like to knit burial outfits, hats, blankets, or small stuffed animals, she’ll gratefully accept these as well! She has patterns available on both her Ravelry group page as well as her Facebook page.
3. Donate financially. I’ve listed this last because Melissa will be the first to admit that she hates to ask for money! But she does have a YouCaring account where you can donate financially, if you feel so led. The money will be used to purchase boxes.
If you don’t have the time to knit or purchase boxes/books and send them, but you still want to help, this is a great option.
Thank you again, Melissa, for sharing your story. If you would like to help make sure that no parent of a baby gone too soon feels alone, I hope you’ll consider lending a hand to Matthew’s Gift!