On Saturday, October 6th, the Garrett's Gift memorial tree grew a little bigger. The Milk Bank hosted families from across the Midwest for our bi-annual Bereavement Family Day. Twice a year, in April and October for National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, we gather in support of families grieving their little ones.

Garrett's Gift bereavement donation program is designed for mothers who have chosen to donate their milk to honor their child's memory. We engrave a golden leaf with each child's name and birthdate to add to the memorial tree in the front area of our office. For many mothers and their families, donating after a loss helps the healing process through giving other vulnerable babies in need the gift of a fighting chance with safe donor milk.

Seven families traveled from Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana to come together. We honored Theo Dean Schimmell, William Parker Rewers, Josephine "Josie" Ethel Sweigart, Miles Andrew Scott, Hazel Nora Burvee, Addilynn Jo Swarringin, and Peter Anthony Mryan.

Theo's mother Kirsten Schimmell donated nearly 1500 ounces of milk and connected Miles' mother Ashley Scott to The Milk Bank.

 Kirsten Schimmell with her donation in Theo’s name

Kirsten Schimmell with her donation in Theo’s name

 Kirsten and Todd Schimmell, Theo’s parents

Kirsten and Todd Schimmell, Theo’s parents

The Scott family brought six family members along, Miles' grandparents and great grandparents, making a crew of eight to honor their sweet boy.

 Ashley and Michael Scott and their extended family

Ashley and Michael Scott and their extended family

Miles' and Theo's engraved leaves are next to each other on the memorial tree.

 Theo and Miles bring their families together through the memorial tree

Theo and Miles bring their families together through the memorial tree

The Burvee family brought along Hazel's older brothers Kellen and Milo who lit up the room as soon as they arrived!

 The Burvee family

The Burvee family

 Hazel’s brothers Kellen and Milo

Hazel’s brothers Kellen and Milo

Addilynn's family traveled from Missouri and made sure to take lots of pictures of and with her beautiful leaf.

 Addilynn’s parents and grandparents

Addilynn’s parents and grandparents

 Brittany Morris’ mother snaps a quick family photo

Brittany Morris’ mother snaps a quick family photo

Many in our community will recognize the Sweigarts, the family behind Josie's Impact, a pay-it-forward campaign celebrating the memory of Patricia and Mark's first child. Josie's leaf was added to the memorial tree over a year ago, but the Sweigarts had been unable to attend a family day until now. They brought Josie's brother Gray who is growing up so fast!

 Patricia, Mark, and Gray Sweigart in front of the memorial tree

Patricia, Mark, and Gray Sweigart in front of the memorial tree

Janet and her oldest son Omar traveled through construction traffic from Chicago. They brought Janet's donation on dry ice for the drive down. Janet chose the perfect spot for Peter's leaf on the memorial tree.

 Janet next to her son Peter’s leaf

Janet next to her son Peter’s leaf

The Rewers family joined us from Effingham County, Illinois, where The Milk Bank and the health department recently partnered to open a milk depot. Not only did William's mother Meghan bring her own donation, but the family brought the milk depot's entire shipment with them, too!

 Meghan, James, and Kael Rewers, William’s family

Meghan, James, and Kael Rewers, William’s family

 “In loving memory of William Parker Rewers”

“In loving memory of William Parker Rewers”

 Effingham County Health Department’s milk depot shipment personally delivered by the Rewers family

Effingham County Health Department’s milk depot shipment personally delivered by the Rewers family

The Milk Bank team and the communities we serve are thankful for each and every amazing bereavement donor and their incredible families.