South Charlotte

3 friends turn loss into love

Turning the loss of a child into a nonprofit organization that brings women from throughout the community together helped change a story of sadness into one of healing and hope for three SouthPark-area women.

It was the loss of Heather Leavitt's baby girl in late 2009 that set the wheels in motion for Baby Bundles.

Leavitt, 38, and friends and business partners Cat Long and Emily Harry officially launched Baby Bundles in February 2011. All three women have lost at least one child during pregnancy; Leavitt twice before her loss in 2009, Long in 2006 and Harry in 2008.

Baby Bundles is "a way for us to come together and honor our children that had passed away," said Long.

Baby Bundles delivers bags filled with newborn necessities to Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte for nurses to hand out to any uninsured mothers at discharge. The business distributes about 25 to 35 bags per month.

"We all came home to a stocked nursery, and there are mothers in our community that go home to nothing," said Harry. "We wanted to role-model the behavior for our children of volunteering and giving back to others, while remembering their siblings at the same time."

"Baby Bundles is a positive way to show my children how we deal with tragedy and honor the siblings they've lost," said Leavitt.

After sending out the first few marketing releases for Baby Bundles, the three founders were astonished to realize how they have touched a group of women who felt connected to the new business, and Harry, Long and Leavitt in general.

Local consignment sales, as well as individual donors, have contributed to the bags.

The women say they want to give hope and love to new mothers who might otherwise have nothing to give their newborn children.

"We want it to be a true gift to the new mother and baby," said Harry.

The bags are filled with donated gently used or new items including bibs, hats, socks, outfits, blankets, toys and books suitable for newborns. Each bag also contains a Beautiful Blessing message to honor not only the baby receiving the gift but also the five children lost to the Harry, Long and Leavitt families.

The goal for the Baby Bundles team is to service the other hospitals in Charlotte through corporate donors, sponsorships and more local and national business involvement.

Baby Bundles also has become involved in Nurse-Family Partnership in Charlotte, delivering about 10 bundles a quarter to the partnerships low-income first-time mothers. The organization partners with new mothers through pregnancy and beyond.