When Lori Basaldu had her first opportunity to do her baby’s laundry she was thrilled.

Her twins were born at 23 weeks and five days gestation and had gone directly to the nursery intensive care unit (NICU) at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“You don’t know anything about NICUs before you experience it or anything about preemies,” she said. “You don’t know what is going to happen. You have fears for the future.”

Basaldu said at first the nurses would place blankets on the baby’s incubators and change them out occasionally and she noticed it gave the room a slightly homier feeling. It was the first sign of normalcy when the nurses asked her to pick out the blankets.

“A few weeks after that they started putting the blankets in bags and saying here is your baby laundry, you need to take it home and do the laundry,” she said. “A lot of people might think that’s not that big of a deal, but it’s really important to have feelings like that when you’re experiencing such a long stay at a hospital and your kids are fighting for their lives. You feel like you get to do baby laundry. It’s a very surprising feeling to have something like that touch you.”

After 107 days in the hospital Basaldu took her twins home, along with all the blankets they had used while in the NICU. It was a comforting way for the babies to transition to their new environment.

Today the twins are happy, healthy 2 year olds and they’re still attached to those homemade blankets they were given after a surprising and early birth.

“They are homemade. They are beautiful. We love them,” Basaldu said. “It’s not a Target blanket. They still hold on to them, they still sleep with them. It’s really inspirational to me that someone would take the time to do something like that for a stranger without really knowing how much of an impact it can have.”

Those blankets are donated to the hospital from several sources, but one of the largest donors is a group called Newborns in Need.

The nationwide nonprofit has a branch in Mesa and a satellite branch in Ahwatukee Foothills. Each month group members get together to create kits for three types of families: those with babies born premature, those who cannot afford new items, and those whose babies are born too small to survive.

The kits include a variety of items, all handmade by group members, to assist in each situation. Last year the group donated nearly 50,000 diapers, bonnets, mittens, bibs, blankets, quilts and other nursery items to 20 local hospitals and to the Hopi Nation in northern Arizona.

“It is a way for us to provide families with adorable blankets for their babies. It is also a way for us to make them feel welcome,” said Christy Nordsiek, a nurse in the NICU at St. Josephs Hospital. “The genuine selflessness of these volunteers and our nurses really speaks to human kindness that Dignity Health and St. Joes together embrace.”

Newborns in Need is always searching for new members. On Saturday, May 3 the Ahwatukee unit will be hosting its Seventh Annual Baby Shower. It’s an opportunity to collect needed items for the kits and also to teach the community about what they do. Those who do not sew, knit or crochet can learn how during the event. Group members will be giving demos on how to create all the items they donate.

The shower is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the fellowship hall at Esperanza Lutheran Church, on the Chandler-Ray loop at 2601 E. Thunderhill Place in Ahwatukee.

The Mesa chapter meets on the first Friday of every month at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1415 E. Southern Ave. in Mesa. Some local members attend both meetings, and others send in their donations if they cannot attend.

To help with the baby shower on May 3, contact Doris Dorwart at ddorwart@hotmail.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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