No one is prepared for a premature baby or the death of a newborn, but one group is doing what it can to make the process a little more caring.

“Somehow we have to make this world a little nicer,” Ahwatukee Foothills resident Doris Dorwart said. “How nice it is to have it start from the start.”

Dorwart is part of a club called Newborns in Need. The group makes kits for babies in need, premature babies and bereavement. The kits are passed along to 15 area hospitals who give the kits to parents of newborns.

The group meets once a month to compile items for the kits. Each meetings starts with a group project like tying bundles of diapers or tying a wash cloth around a bar of soap. Then the ladies have show and tell of other projects they’ve been working on. Some have crocheting projects like a blanket, booties or a hat while others sew blankets, bags or small toys. The showing leads to sharing of patterns and ideas. Once the women have shown their projects they go over club business, if there is any, and then they stick around to work on their projects together and learn from each other.

“There are some people that only do certain things and others that do a variety,” Dorwart said. “The nice thing about this group is we are never told, ‘We need 10 blankets by next week so everyone has to do two.’ What we get is, ‘If you want to make a blanket, make a blanket.’ We have some members who only make one blanket a month, but that’s one more than we had before.”

In the kits for babies in need the group supplies a few diapers, soap and a wash cloth, a hat, booties, something to wear (purchased or homemade), and a bib or a burp cloth. The packages for premature babies contain a hat, a diaper shirt that’s easy to take on and off, a toy to lay wires across and sometimes a quilt to cover the incubator. For the babies who don’t make it a bereavement kit includes an outfit for burial (usually made from an old wedding dress), a hat, booties, a pouch for burial and two blankets, one to keep as a keepsake and the other to be buried with the baby. The bereavement kit also includes a memory envelope to take everything home in. The items that are made for the bereavement kit are not items that can be purchased in stores, Dorwart said. They’ve heard stories of parents shopping for doll clothes to bury small babies in but this gives them a nicer option.

Once a year Newborns in Need in Ahwatukee, which is a satellite group of a club in Mesa, takes part in the Largest Baby Shower on the Planet. It gives the community a chance to hear about the club and participate. Members of the community are welcome to stop in to the shower and learn how they can make items for the kits or they can clean out their closets and donate any unused yarn and fabric. The group is always in need of diapers in newborn size and bars of Ivory soap.

This year the shower will be at Esperanza Lutheran Church, 2601 E. Thunderhill Place, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 5. All donations are tax deductible. For more information, call (480) 460-0265.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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