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.
The Scott family brought six family members along, Miles' grandparents and great grandparents, making a crew of eight to honor their sweet boy.
Miles' and Theo's engraved leaves are next to each other on 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!
Addilynn's family traveled from Missouri and made sure to take lots of pictures of and with her beautiful leaf.
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!
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.
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!
The Milk Bank team and the communities we serve are thankful for each and every amazing bereavement donor and their incredible families.