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Baby shower for Jesus aids Pregnancy Help Center
Sister Ann Venita Britto shows one of several quilted baby blankets and matching knit caps made and donated by Mary Jo Malone of Ripon to the annual Baby Jesus Shower at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Mary Jo Malone of Ripon has a project every year: quilting baby blankets and knitting matching baby caps.
At the end of the year just before Christmas, she brings them all to the baby shower at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca.
“She makes them all year-round in her free time and then gives them all for the baby shower,” said Sister Ann Venita who is in charge of the baby shower for Jesus that the church holds every year to benefit the Manteca Pregnancy Help Center.
Malone’s donation this year filled a large wicker laundry basket. Each blanket is even accompanied by a handmade gift tag with the note, “Made especially for you with tender loving care.”
This weekend, at all the Masses including the 5 p.m. anticipated Mass on Saturday, parishioners are asked to bring baby shower gifts to church for the infant Jesus. They are invited to place their gifts and offerings around a statue of the Virgin Mary in a makeshift stable near the altar.
Pregnancy Help Center Director Janice LePlume said the donations generated by this annual baby shower for Jesus project has been a big help to the program which is constantly in need of baby items and money to keep its doors open. The nonprofit program does not have any paid staff and relies solely on donations with the exception of a $250 a month grant from the United Way that has been funded for the second time this year. That grant though can only be spent for what it was intended — baby layettes.
The main items on the program’s “wish list” include “larger-size” diapers for babies that are from three months to eight months old.
“We get a lot of donations of the smaller sizes and we end up not having enough of the larger ones. We service the babies until they are 12 months old, so we also have seven- to eight-month-old babies,” LePlume said.
During the cold winter months, they need warm clothing, long pants and long-sleeved shirts or pajamas that fit babies from three months up to 24 months. They also need toiletries like baby wash and baby lotions as well as milk formula and small toys to put in the layettes for infants. Nail clippers, brush and comb sets, and thermometers are always needed, added LePlume.
“And baby wipes — that’s another big one,” she said.
Cash donations though are always welcome and encouraged. The program needs cash donations to help pay the monthly $1,105 rent to its office at 327 N. Main Street (across from the Book Exchange), as well as to pay for PG&E bills which runs approximately $200 to $250 a month, and water and garbage which require another $100, or thereabouts, every month.
The program, which provides free assistance and counseling to young mothers and their babies, receives financial support from a handful churches in the area including St. Anthony’s but they always need additional help from the public, LePlume said.
For the first time this year, the center held a fund-raiser in the form of a dinner at Chéz Sharî in Manteca.
“We got some underwriting to pay for the meals then invited people to the banquet” who made donations, LePlume said.
Being the first fund-raiser in what they hope will be an annual event, “we only got 70 people. We had invited 100 and we got 70, so that was pretty good for a first time.”
That first fund-raising effort raised approximately $7,000.
Business hours at the Pregnancy Help Center are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. The office is closed on weekends.
For more information about the Pregnancy Help Center, call 239-9899.