news-category: Christian Life and Service

Team from Gardner-Webb Ministers to New Moms in Southeastern Kentucky

Group Partners with ‘God’s Love in a Diaper Bag’

Written by Ashley Rich, ’26, Intern for University Communications

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—A mission team from Gardner-Webb University discovered during their summer trip that it’s possible to make a difference in the lives of others without going abroad. Two faculty leaders and five students offered a “God’s Love in a Diaper Bag” baby shower and new parent/young child education seminar for 30 low-income families in Jenkins, Ky. This rural area in southeastern Kentucky is in socioeconomic distress after the closure of its coal mines, compounded by a flood that hit in the summer of 2022.

“I am thankful that God allowed us to be a little part of bringing hope and joy to those new mommas who were navigating some very difficult times,” said Assistant Director of the Hunt School of Nursing and Associate Professor Dr. Anna Hamrick. “Something as simple as a baby shower may seem commonplace for many of us, but many of the women in attendance said it was the first time they had been given brand new items or felt like the baby was being celebrated.”

To supply the event, the students and faculty leaders spent hours at local shopping centers purchasing a plethora of decorations and supplies for the new mothers and their families. “With monies raised, we purchased decorations, food, brand new diaper bags loaded with baby supplies, strollers, blankets, and lots of wonderful items to give to each mother,” Hamrick said. “We also supplied the gift bags with Bibles, devotional books, and mom self-care kits.”

The event itself was a success, with around 60 people in attendance, including the new mothers and their plus-ones. Along with a meal and loaded diaper bags, the event included several educational demonstrations and time for testimonials.   “During the shower, our group participated in baby safety education, including teaching infant CPR. There was also a demonstration on the effects of Shaken Baby Syndrome, car-seat safety, and opioid withdrawal syndrome in newborns,” Hamrick explained.

For one of the student participants, Anna Sample, sharing her testimony with the mothers and their families was an especially notable experience. “God has been preparing me to go into public speaking ministry for a couple of years now, and I feel that He used this opportunity to refine me and grow me for His will,” Sample said.

Her speaking greatly affected her, the event participants and the faculty leaders. “Something that really impacted me was getting to hear our students’ testimonies,” remarked Instructor of Nursing Nicole Beaver. “It was impactful to hear their stories and how God has used them thus far in their lives.”  

Abi McBee was deeply moved as she shared her testimony for the first time and when she interacted with the families at the baby shower. “It was an amazing opportunity to share the love of Christ and grow in my own relationship by fellowshipping with other believers all week!” she affirmed.

Being able to serve others in need gave the participants the space to grow as leaders and as strong individuals. The skills and relationships they formed will allow them to continue to grow in their futures of patient care and in their personal faith journeys.

“Each woman on our team took turns leading morning and night devotionals every day of our trip,” Sample related. “It was a great bonding experience for us, and it pushed us closer to the Lord as we served His kingdom.”  

Student Members:

  • Kiley Burnette
  • Maren Canupp
  • Abi McBee
  • Alethia McDowell
  • Anna Sample

Writer Ashley Rich is a Gardner-Webb English major from Etowah, N.C.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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