TYLER, Texas — As Christmas approaches, three East Texas moms wanted to ensure that other parents knew they weren't alone during the holidays.
Katie Skinner, Jamye Read and Jennifer Rasberry know first hand how tough it can be when a newborn child doesn't get to go home but instead receives care from a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“Having a child that was in the NICU for several months, it can be a very scary time, a very emotional time and also very isolating,” Read said.
The moms remember the visits from family and friends that helped them through their tough times. However, because of the pandemic, many families are separated from each other.
"We can't imagine what it's like even now when there's less visitors that can come in and see you and see your baby," Skinner said.
Each year, the moms get together for the holidays and raise money to take stockings with goodies to NICU parents at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances in Tyler. They thought the pandemic might affect their Christmas tradition, but they didn't realize how much.
"We were able to double our efforts from last year," Rasberry said. "So we were able to put in twice as much than we were last year."
On Monday morning, the women and their kids went to the hospital with 40 stockings and blankets in tow. Inside the stockings were different gift cards, candy, and other snacks in hopes of providing parents with the "little things that they need."
"We had a lot to spend on these moms this year thanks to our friends and our family and even complete strangers that stepped up to help,” Read said. "We just wanted to bring some hope and some joy to these moms, especially this year.”
Sister Margo with CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances said it's been tough for everyone in the NICU, but the holiday presents from the former NICU mothers and their boys are a good reminder of what's to come.
“It's bringing hope and joy that they are not alone, there are mothers and fathers who went through that and they also are in union with you right now in this unbelievable times," the sister said.
Typically, the moms and their sons would pass out the gifts to the parents themselves and take some time to check how people are doing. They were unable to do so because of COVID-19, but Santa's special helpers made up of NICU staff ensured their delivery.