A safe ride home: car seats donated to hospital

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Through the joint efforts of the Kiwanis Club of Salisbury and Smart Start Rowan, five newborns will be able to travel home from the hospital safely in a new car seat.

Janet Haynes, president of the Kiwanis Club, said that money for the car seats was raised by their club through their annual Pancake Festival, which typically raises in excess of $30,000.

“We fund lots of organizations, lots of events, mostly dealing with children,” she said, and the money is used “to provide things like car seats via Smart Start for children and parents who don’t have the financial wherewithal to purchase a seat for their newborn.”

The money donated by Kiwanis was then matched by another organization and presented to Smart Start Rowan, who makes the actual purchase and delivery of the car seats to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.

On May 30, five car seats were delivered and presented to the personnel in the labor and delivery department at the hospital where they will be available to present to families in need of a car seat.

Megan Fox, nurse and team lead, said these particular car seats were not spoken for as of that day, “so they will go to our closet and as we have family members come in who are unable to provide or if the baby goes to a foster family or elsewhere unexpectedly, or maybe to grandma, then we will provide them for them.”

Being able to provide these new car seats to help families that need them was meaningful to Haynes and Erik Lipscomb, president-elect of the Kiwanis Club and Denise Heinke, director of outreach and development at Smart Start Rowan, who were all on hand to present the car seats to the staff.

“I’m very proud to be a part of Kiwanis, and to be able to fund things like car seats,” said Haynes. And it took on an even more special meaning after hearing about two small children who were in a wreck and didn’t have car seats because the family couldn’t afford them, she said.

Providing these seats is “super special,” Lipscomb said. “I think it’s pretty neat to provide something a child needs at day one. That’s not an opportunity that a lot of people or a lot of organizations get to influence a child’s life at day one, two and three. So, that’s pretty special to me.”

For Heinke, who said in her almost two years at Smart Start Rowan, has made four or five trips with car seats to Novant, this was the most she has brought.

“This is amazing,” she said. 

As she remembered back to when she was a new mom, she thought about all the preparations that had to be made, and she said, there are some that don’t have the money for a car seat or in their rushing around, they totally forget to get one and then ask if they have to rush out and get one to get their baby home. So, for the hospital “to be able to have that closet of car seats that they don’t want the parents to worry, and they don’t want them to be concerned,” Heinke said, and for them to say, “ No, we’ve got you.” 

Receiving the car seats “is amazing,” said Fox as she said there are times they have gotten some and in what feels like mere weeks they are gone and need more. And then, she said, there are times when perhaps months go by.

“It’s a beauty to have them, but it’s very heartwarming to know that we can provide it for them but also hard knowing that there are people out there who do without,” Fox said.

Providing car seats for the hospital happens at least once a year; however, when that need does arise and Fox calls asking if they can get more, Heinke said she will reach out to the Kiwanis Club, “and they are like, we’ve got you, we’ll take care of it,” and they have answered the call “every single time, they go above and beyond,” she said. 

Partnering together and supporting one another is “just linking hands with each other and we make it work and we make it happen and I’m really grateful for this program,” Heinke said. “It’s one of my favorites to come in and do.”

And the families as well are thankful to receive the car seats as Heinke said they have told the staff how much they appreciate it.

Being a community service-oriented club with a mission of improving the world one community and one child at a time, Haynes said that this particular project is  “definitely a priority on our list as far as a club to do.”

And, Heinke said, they have a great relationship with the Kiwanis and she too said, “I think this is the one that will always continue. It’s very meaningful.”

“To be able to know that these children are leaving the hospital with a piece of equipment that we know is new, it’s safe, it really means a lot,” said Haynes