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La Plata County group assembles baby baskets for new moms

Goal is to lessen financial burden for mothers in Durango and Bayfield
Patricia Martin, center, and Lesley Gannon Meiring, left, assemble baby basket items on April 17 at Martin's home on East Animas Road in northern Durango. The baskets, which contain items like blankets, diapers and baby monitors were taken to Mercy Hospital's Birth Center for new mothers. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

Becoming a new mother can be much to handle, especially with multiple expenses.

There’s not only necessities like food, clothes and accounting for rent or mortgage payments, but also basic items like diapers, blankets and baby monitors. For those latter three, the price can add up and potentially impact an already delicate financial situation.

That’s why a Durango-Bayfield area group assembles baby baskets with diapers, blankets and baby monitors for new moms. It’s fewer items to worry about paying for, which in turn presents extra time moms can spend caring for their newborns.

“Diapers are so expensive, unbelievable expensive, like $20 for a bag of diapers,” said first-time group member and north Durango resident Lesley Gannon Meiring. “(Group members) care so much about young women, and they want to help them and encourage them and never have them go without. … There’s a safety net for (these mothers). … You want the nursery to be well-equipped with all the things your baby is going to need.”

The group assembled baby baskets on April 17 and dropped them off at Mercy Hospital’s Birth Center that same day.

It was the first of three meetings the group, which assembled baby baskets at volunteer member Patricia Martin’s East Animas Road home in the northern outskirts of Durango, has scheduled for this year.

Bayfield resident and group member Kate Largent, a former prenatal unit head and nurse at Mercy, said she’s seen some new mothers who were struggling financially, and adding the baby baskets are a much-needed boost.

“If you’re a young parent, everything’s new. Maybe you never even had to go buy food before because your mom always did it. … It’s really hard,” said Largent, who delivered that first round of baby baskets to Mercy. “A lot of new moms are on their own, and they might not have the skills to try to decide how to deal with money.”

Patricia Martin handles blankets that will be added to baby baskets on April 17 at Martin's home on East Animas Road in northern Durango. The baskets, which contain items such as blankets, diapers and baby monitors, were taken to Mercy Hospital's Birth Center for new mothers. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

The group, which comprises well over a dozen volunteers, was started in the Florida Mesa outside Bayfield in the 1950s by a group of farm wives who gathered items for new moms in the area.

“We’ve had moms that probably don’t have much of anything. I think a couple years ago, we had a mom that was brand-new in the area, didn’t know anybody, and she really needed stuff,” said group member and Bayfield resident Sherry Gurholt. “Every once in a while, we’ll get a really lovely ‘thank you’ note.”

The group began including baby monitors in the baskets several years ago because of rising demand, paired with some of them costing at least $50.

“A lot of people in La Plata County are under a tight financial budget. But there’s a lot of young moms-to-be that are in need,” Gannon Meiring said.

Group organizer and Bayfield resident Candy Gerber said the items in the baby baskets have proven to be helpful because they take that extra bit of stress off new mothers, adding that diapers alone can cost thousands of dollars.

“They’re overwhelmed as it is,” Gerber said.

The group pays for the baby basket items out of pocket, always thinking of the new mothers who desperately need them.

“These times, it’s not easy for these new kids that are having babies. It’s very expensive in Durango,” Gerber said. “So, we help in any way we can to take the burden off them and their brand-new babies.”


Baby basket items that were assembled and taken to Mercy Hospital’s Birth Center for new mothers. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

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