On the second Saturday of each month, the Des Plaines, Ill., Corps is hopping. Families enter the fellowship hall to the delicious smells of breakfast—hot egg casseroles, bread, fruit, cereal and milk. Volunteers weave through the crowd greeting visitors with genuine smiles and warmth, refilling coffee carafes and cleaning up. Friends gather around the tables eating, laughing and cooing over the newest additions to the group.
The innovative Breakfast with Baby (BWB) program began six years ago when soldier Cheryl Hagedorn recognized the struggle many families face in providing what their babies need. While some are able to register for assistance through WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and SNAP (food stamps) to purchase formula and other food for their infants and young children, neither of these government programs provides for one of the most basic and essential baby needs—diapers.
BWB invites families with an expectant mother or child under one year of age to enjoy a hot meal, receive spiritual and emotional support and gather diapers and other items needed for their children—all free of charge.
Since its inception, BWB has helped hundreds of families diaper their babies—to the tune of more than 36,000 diapers a year! In addition, community partners donate gently-used clothing, strollers, toys and other items for distribution to families in need. While moms share a devotional time, shop in the BWB store and collect diapers, fathers are encouraged to attend a men’s discussion group. Toddlers are supervised in a play area, and older children enjoy a Bible story, music and crafts. The goal is to provide free diapers to babies in need, but also to offer spiritual support to their parents.
Through BWB several families have become regular participants in other corps programs and/or have started attending Sunday worship. Recently a family requested to have their baby dedicated to the Lord at the corps. It’s a momentous occasion as leaders see the results of God’s hand on their ministry efforts. “It’s a wonderful ministry. It’s run on faith, donations and volunteers,” said Cheryl, adding that BWB doesn’t use any corps funds and only spends money donated to the program on diapers.
To help accommodate the growing program, several area churches have come on board in recent years to serve as secondary locations. Cheryl anticipates further expansion in the future as word is spread by attendees and BWB is promoted at community events.
For more information, visit the Des Plaines Corps web page at www.salarmydesplaines.org