Through her grief, Vickie Mendenhall is providing comfort and kindness to others.
The Neoga woman recently made and donated angel wraps to Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Women & Children’s Center to help families going through the unimaginable experience of losing a baby. The tiny, quilted wraps lend dignity to the baby’s life no matter how short a time he or she is with us, she said.
Mendenhall was inspired to sew and donate the wraps “For the Love of Violet,” a kindness project created in memory of her great-granddaughter. Violet Lorraine Kiest died while napping of an unexplained cause in March. She was just four and a half months old.
The baby’s parents, Josh and Alexandra (Genta) Kiest, formerly of Mattoon, established the kindness project in an effort to heal in a positive way. The couple has distributed hundreds of lavender kindness cards for people to pass along when they perform an act of kindness. With friends and family quickly jumping into action, the project has grown greatly with people from all over the U.S. spreading kindness and joy in Violet’s name and sharing their experiences on Facebook.
The angel wraps are for babies that are born too soon and usually sleeping, Mendenhall said. The babies are gently placed in the wraps so their parents can say goodbye. She makes various sizes and will continue to make them as they are needed. “My hope is that they never need to be used,” she said.
Women and Children’s Director, Cindy Rivas, RN, is grateful for the donation. “A loss of this kind is heartbreaking for the parents to face, yet most of them still want to both see, and to hold, their tiny little infants,” Rivas said. “It is a very special part of that grieving process, of letting go of the dreams of what might have been and having a handmade wrap that their baby wore is an irreplaceable keepsake.”
In addition, Mendenhall recently made and donated a number of chemo port pillows to Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Regional Cancer Center in memory of Violet. “I love to sew and I have found peace and comfort in making and donating things to help people,” she said. “There have been a lot of tears shed in that sewing room.”
For those wishing to join in and spread kindness, please visit “For the Love of Violet” on Facebook.
Vickie Mendenhall of Neoga (left) donates angel wraps to comfort parents who experience the loss of a baby. She is pictured with labor and delivery nurse Shanti Goins, RN, (center) and Women and Children’s Director, Cindy Rivas, RN.