Kindergartners deliver Keep a Baby Warm boxes to newborns in need
A kindergarten teacher and her class are helping mothers who may struggle to afford necessities for their newborns.
Teacher Gretchen Hertler McInvale leads her students at Spencer Elementary School in Middletown, Connecticut, in assembling boxes of donated necessities for babies and taking them to nearby Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford.
"It starts even with the littlest ones knowing that they can help someone else and they love it," McInvale told ABC News. "When it's snowing or rainy the first thing they think of is, 'A baby gets to go home warm today.' I just don't think character could wait to be taught until you're older. It needs to be taught in the youngest of ages -- to be a good person and to give back."
McInvale gave birth to all three of her children at Saint Francis. She was inspired to start her Keep a Baby Warm" project after having her daughter, Courtney, at the hospital.
"When I was having my first daughter, the woman next to me, we were in the recovery room and I heard her ask the nurse if she had anything to bring her baby home in," McInvale recalled. "I felt so bad because I just had this beautiful baby shower and she had nothing new."
McInvale began gathering baby items to infants born to financially-struggling parents. The project started small with her daughters helping with donations.
Soon, the teacher got her kindergarten students involved. Items are donated by the students' families, school staff and community members.
This Valentine's Day, McInvale and her 21 students delivered 30 boxes filled with blankets, onesies, knitted hats, socks, rattles and pacifiers.
The children were even introduced to a newborn through a hospital nursery window during their visit.
"Gretchen McInvale has been doing this for 29 years, and our staff really looks forward to the visit from the children," said Fiona Phelan, Saint Francis' media relations manager. "They bring lovely gifts for the newborns, many of which don’t have warm clothes or blankets waiting for them at home. The children are thrilled to be able to be a 'big' person and see what it was like to be a baby."
McInvale is also an author of a book, "Between the Darkness and the Light." All proceeds from its sales go to the Keep a Baby Warm initiative, McInvale said.
She hopes that one day her daughters will carry on the project for years to come, McInvale said.