Volunteers Knit Afghans For Moms Of Stillborn Babies So They Will Have Something To Cherish

SAN MARINO  (CBSLA.com) —  A group of volunteers makes blankets for stillborn babies.

They call themselves “Afghans for Angels.”

This group kicks off a new segment on KCAL9 and CBS2 News called,  “Making A Difference” — highlighting people doing special things in their communities.

Mary Gilbaugh of San Marino has always loved knitting.

“I don’t do well just sitting still,” says Gilbaugh.

The blanket she is currently knitting is a special one.

“These babies are very, very small,” she says, “so for a tiny baby, this is just about enough material to wrap them in.”

The volunteers donate the blankets to hospitals for babies born still around California and in the southland.

“The mothers who get them, it’s not the happiest day of their lives,” Gilbaugh says, “but I’m just glad when they walk out of the hospital, they’re going to have something with them.”

Gilbaugh’s own daughter, Susan Ross, was one of those grieving mothers — her daughter, Marianne — died just 20 minutes after being born at 35 weeks.

“They’re your children,” says Ross, “no matter how long they have been in your life.”

At the hospital, Ross was given a box with her daughter’s footprints, her bracelet and an afghan made by an “Afghans for Angels” volunteer.

Marianne was wrapped in it and cradled in her mother’s arms.

“It’s very hard to describe how this two-foot blanket could be so meaningful,” Ross said. “And it’s something I hold as a memory to somebody who was in the blanket for just a few minutes.”

When Ross came home, she healed at her mother’s house. Gilbaugh remembers how her daughter would just run her hands over the blanket while in bed.

“I just realized that the physical touch of that blanket was so important,” Gilbaugh said.

That is when she decided she would also volunteer knitting blankets for others — she’s made about 100 Gilbaugh says.

Every time she makes one of the blankets, she says, she thinks of the little granddaughter she lost five years ago.

“I say this is for you, sweetie, there goes another one,” says Gilbaugh.

“Angels” has made more than 1,000 blankets but the group says, sadly, they can’t keep up with the demand.

They’re hoping to get more volunteers, or as they call it angels for angels.

As Ross said, you get something to hold onto, “for years to come.”

If you can’t knit, there are still ways to help out — you can donate yarn that will get into the hands of volunteers.

For more information about volunteer opportunities, click here.

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