HCA Healthcare
June 05, 2019


Source: Nashville Tennessean
Author: Mary Hance

Thank you to my readers for your generous response to our request for new and gently used baby clothes for newborns in need through the Strick's Gift nonprofit organization.

The Ms. Cheap clothing drive turned up 3,200 pieces of clothing and baby blankets, as well as monetary donations and new interest from other individuals and groups that want to help Strick's Gift offer hope and help to the thousands of needy babies and their families.

"The most important results are the clothes that made it to newborns in need in Nashville," Strick's Gift founder Lena Levendoski said.

Lena Levendoski, right, and Mary Hance look over the donated baby clothes that were dropped off at The Tennessean offices in April 2019.(Photo: Donna Schroeder / The Tennessean)

The drive brought in enough clothing and blankets to give to the families of 100 newborns.

"Within 48 hours of the article being published, $3,000 was donated ... by five different individuals," Levendoski said.

More support followed

Additional contributions flowed in for Strick's Gift after the clothing drive, Levendoski said. 

  • HCA held a clothing drive and has been receiving shipments from around the country.
  • The 12 South neighborhood had a clothing drive
  • Pediatric Associates of Franklin is holding a monthly clothing drive.
  • An area knitters group chose Strick’s Gift as an organization to send their knitted and sewn items to.

Levendoski has been asked to speak to groups about Strick’s Gift and has met with a group in East Tennessee that wants to start a version of Strick’s Gift in their area.

Her story was powerful

When I first heard Levendoski's story about Strick's Gift's clothing donations, I knew I wanted to help. 

The story is not only of the painful personal loss of her unborn son two weeks before his due date, but also of how she turned that heartbreak into a force for good to help the thousands of babies born into poverty each year in Nashville.

Strick's Gift's mission

Strick's Gift fills gift bags with new and gently used clothing in newborn to 12 month sizes. The gift bags are turned over to social workers and nurses in the four Nashville hospitals that deliver babies to give to families with newborns they consider to be in need.

"I know that the impact is just a drop in the bucket, but it is something. And I needed to do something," Levendoski said.

Lena Levendoski hugs Nashville General Hospital volunteer coordinator Kate Haygood after Levendoski dropped off bags of clothing and blankets for newborns in need at Nashville General Hospital on Wednesday, March 28, 2019. Levendoski started a nonprofit, Strick's Gift, that collects infant clothes to give to newborns in need as a way to give them hope and to keep the memory of her son alive. (Photo: Shelley Mays /The Tennessean)

She has filled more than 2,200 Strick's Gift bags with nearly 80,000 items for babies since she started in 2008.

Based on data from the four Nashville hospitals where babies are delivered, an estimated 30-50% of babies are considered by social workers to be born into poverty.  

As many as 6,000 of the approximate 14,650 babies born in Nashville each year are considered needy. 

"For me, this is a calling," Levendoski said.

Lena Levendoski, right, and Mary Hance look over the donated baby clothes that were dropped off at The Tennessean offices in April 2019.(Photo: Donna Schroeder / The Tennessean)

Thank you 

"My gratitude is impossible to articulate," Levendoski said. "I believe people naturally want to help others, and giving our community a concrete way to do so is important. We have to help each other, it is the only way."

She is right. Thank you, everybody! 

Donations are still welcome

If you have baby clothes or blankets to donate or want to support Strick's Gift in other ways, details and contact information can be found at Strick's Gift.

How many babies are in need?

According to social workers at the Nashville hospitals that deliver babies, thousands of babies are born in need every year.

  • At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where about 4,700 babies are born each year, as many as 50% are considered needy. 
  • At TriStar Centennial Medical Center, 40-50% of the 3,500- 3,600 babies born are considered to be in need. 
  • At Nashville General Hospital at Meharry, 45-50% of the 350 babies born each year are uninsured or under-insured and considered in need.
  • At St. Thomas Midtown, where about 6,000 babies are born annually, an estimated 30% are considered in need of assistance. 

Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or email Ms. Cheap. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/mscheap, and at Tennessean.com/mscheap, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11:00am on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”

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