Christ Child Society granted charter, spreading in diocese

Seeing flashing lights in the rearview mirror is something that makes most people’s hearts stop, but for Peg Shipley a recent traffic stop turned out to be a heartwarming experience.

Returning to Bloomington from a meeting in Peoria one stormy night, she was stopped for driving over the center line. When the officer asked her where she was going, she said she was on her way home from a meeting of the Christ Child Society board in Peoria.

He gave her back her driver’s license.

He said he had just learned about the organization from a poor young mother as he was escorting her and her baby to a shelter. She had forgotten the layette the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois gave her through the hospital and she asked to go back and pick it up, explaining, “They make baskets of baby clothes for people like me.”

“That made me so happy,” said Shipley, the founding president of the central Illinois chapter. “That’s one more baby who has clothes.”

The Christ Child Society of Central Illinois has been doing that at the request of Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, since the first layettes of baby clothing, blankets and diapers were given away on Mother’s Day in 2006.

Entrusted to the care of the Bishop’s Commission on Women in the Church and in Society by the bishop in 2005, the group was granted a charter and became a full-fledged chapter of the National Christ Child Society last October. Also named a chapter at the convention in St. Louis was the Christ Child Society of the Quad Cities.

Founded by Mary Virginia Merrick in 1887 to serve at-risk children, the organization’s signature program is providing layettes to families in need. A second initiative, “Challenging Poverty: One Child at a Time,” was launched in 2003 to address the root causes of poverty.

Bishop Jenky charged the central Illinois chapter with making layettes available to families in need at every hospital in the Diocese of Peoria. Starting with Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford and McLean counties, the members now deliver as many as 71 layettes each month to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Methodist Clinic and Proctor Hospital in Peoria, OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, BroMenn Regional Medical Center in Normal, St. Margaret’s Hospital in Spring Valley and OSF Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac.

Those who would like to join the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois or receive more information may call (309) 677-7697 or send e-mail to christchildsociety@gmail.com.

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