Welcome Baby Box committee chair Mary Nisewander displays “Welcome Baby Box” items. Delivered to South Lane County parents of newborns, the baby box project is a collaborative effort of 90by30, Family Relief Nursery of Cottage Grove and other community partners.

Even in these challenging times of extended school closures, escalating unemployment and mandatory social distancing, the 90by30 South Lane Regional Leadership Team (RLT) and Family Relief Nursery (FRN) of Cottage Grove are working to provide “bundles of love” to local parents welcoming their own “bundles of joy.”

The two agencies collaborate on the Welcome Baby Box (WBB) program, which continues – following a new “no-contact” protocol – to deliver infant care packages to parents of newborns in Cottage Grove, Creswell and the surrounding area.

The “baby box” itself is a lightweight, durable bassinet that can be carried from room to room and includes a plastic mattress covered with a 100% cotton sheet. Modeled after the Finnish Baby Box, the Smitten box is designed to provide a safe sleeping environment for infants under 4 to 6 months of age and backed by 40-plus years of success in Europe.

Packed inside are more than 30 carefully selected baby items, including organic clothing; a sleep sack; safe toys and books; nursery, breastfeeding, bathing and infant medical supplies; and even a handmade “tummy time” quilt and handknitted or crocheted baby hat.

Also included is a binder filled with community and county resources for parents, including child development, healthy feeding choices, healthcare, and safety and crisis support materials.

But beyond its baby necessities and resources, the WBB’s biggest benefit to new parents perhaps lies in providing a sense of social support and connection at a time when they may need it most.

Putting together the boxes is also community-building, as local groups knit hats or booties, donate diapers or bottles, etc. Cottage Grove High School’s Interact Club, for example, held a bake sale to raise money for WBB pacifiers.

The Welcome Baby Box project is sponsored by 90by30, a division of the Center for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect out of the University of Oregon which aims to reduce child abuse and neglect in Lane County by 90% by 2030.

Of the seven 90by30 regions, the South Lane RLT – with FRN, Family Resource Center, DHS and Healthy Family as community partners – was the first to launch deliveries, in Fall 2017.

Historically, delivery includes a home visit to review WBB contents and materials with the new parents. Currently, however, deliveries are made via front porch drop-offs only and “at the discretion of our community partners based on current service levels offered and comfort level in making deliveries,” said South Lane Regional coordinator, Rachel Nordquist.

“We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and Governor mandates and emulating other entities that do family home visitation as a core portion of their services,” Nordquist said. “We hope to return to full-service deliveries in the coming months.”

Monetary or WBB item donations are gladly accepted. All donations to 90by30 are tax deductible through the University of Oregon Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3).

“Whether you can knit hats, provide bath supplies or fund board books for some of the boxes, there is a way for every Lane County resident to contribute,” a 90by30 Welcome Baby Box webpage states.

To learn more about the Welcome Baby Box program, visit https://90by30.com/what-we-do/about-welcome-baby-box.