Baby Steps to Stronger Big Island Families

baby steps

6,000+ babies…and counting.  That’s how many Hawai’i Island infants have received an absolutely free newborn basket within 24 hours of birth at a Big Island hospital over the past 5 years.

The newborn baskets, part of the “Baby Steps To Stronger Big Island Families” program, are meant to welcome infants into the world and provide research-based “tools” to help each child and his or her family receive the best possible start to family life.  Supported by grants, private donations and thousands of volunteer hours, the project started in December 2004 as a response to Mayor Harry Kim’s community-driven “Kick ICE” initiative.

The community is invited for a delicious dinner between 4 and 9 p.m., Sunday, July 12, 2009 at Denny’s Restaurant in Kailua-Kona to support the newborn basket project through “Project Compassion,” a partnership between the Rotary Club of Kona, Denny’s and local charities to provide financial support to non-profit organizations working in the community.

Denny’s will donate 20% of all dinner bills and 100% of all tips to “Baby Steps To Stronger Big Island Families” newborn basket project.

The baskets most notably include a $30 Snugli (a front-pack baby carrier), which is very handy for carrying an infant hands-free.  But, more than a nice thought or helpful convenience, the contents of the gift basket are based on research showing use of a Snugli promotes a caring, safe, bonded relationship between an infant and his or her family. These stronger first relationships significantly define and enhance a newborn’s relationships throughout life.  Better relationships equate to higher self esteem, which experts agree help with making better choices throughout life.

Newborn baskets also include baby’s first book, useful information for new moms such as SIDS prevention, how to install car seats, and a comprehensive Resource Directory to help anxious new families connect with services in their community.  “Newborn baskets have been a huge hit all over the island because they are such a lovely way for the community to celebrate the birth of a new child,” said Angela Thomas, who has led the project from its inception.

“But presenting every new mom with a lovely gift is really just the tip of the iceberg.  Because of solid research about the significant value of attachment to infant development, our project has been supported by many public and private partners – from KTA SuperStores to the Hawai’i State Legislature to Governor Linda Lingle and Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona to Kamehameha Schools and many more, including nearly a hundred volunteers who have spent more than 5,000 unpaid hours assembling baskets for our island’s three major hospitals.”

“Denny’s Restaurant and the Rotary Club of Kona, through “Project Compassion” are helping to keep these Snuglis and gift baskets being delivered to Big Island hospitals.  You can help ensure that our Big Island babies thrive by dining at Denny’s on Sunday, July 12, between 4 and 9 p.m.,” Thomas said.

Waiting on customers during Denny’s “Project Compassion” dinners will be a cadre of VIP “wait help” including LAVA105FM’s Sherry Bracken, Susan Maddox of Friends of the Future and North Hawaii Rotary’s newly installed President, Family Support Services of West Hawai’i’s JoAnn Bishop Freed, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce’s Bill Sanborn and Vivian Landrum, PATCH’s Gail Judd, Hawaii Community Foundation’s Diane Chadwick and several surprise guests.

No reservations are needed for Denny’s “Project Compassion” dinner.  For information about “Baby Steps To Stronger Big Island Families, call Angela Thomas (990-6754).

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