news-category: Christian Life and Service

Gardner-Webb Team Shows ‘God’s Love From a Diaper Bag’ to Moms in Kentucky

The Gardner-Webb Team poses before the baby shower ministry.

Faculty and Students Work with Missionaries to Provide Baby Items and Education That Saves Lives

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—In Jenkins, Ky., unemployment is high, homes are dilapidated, and people are still recovering from a flood in July 2022 that took many lives and destroyed property. A former coal-mining town, this area has been called “the poorest of the poor.”

Into this dreary atmosphere, missionaries Bessie and Lester McPeek bring hope through their ministry, “God’s Love From a Diaper Bag,” which includes hosting baby showers and providing home repairs and other ministries. For the second consecutive year, a team organized by the Gardner-Webb University Office of Christian Life and Service has responded to a call for help from the McPeeks.

While there, the eight-member team learned that a mother had used the infant CPR she learned from the GWU team last year to save her baby’s life. “Often, we don’t get to see the direct impact of our service,” observed Nursing Instructor Nicole Beaver. “However, when Mrs. Bessie, the missionary, shared that the CPR education provided by myself and a previous nursing student last year helped a mother save her infant’s life, it was incredibly reassuring. It showed that the education and supplies we provide are truly making a significant difference in the lives of the mothers and babies.”

The team started preparing for this year’s shower before the 2024 Spring Semester ended. Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Hunt School of Nursing, Dr. Anna Hamrick said the team collected nearly $3,000 in cash and gift cards from the GWU campus and community to buy items for the families. “The day of our shower, 19 moms and their guests attended,” she noted. “A couple of moms were expecting twins and received double items. At least one of the registered mothers received her gifts after the shower because she had already gone into labor and was in the hospital awaiting the birth of her baby.”   

The baby shower included educational sessions on the dangers of shaking your baby (Shaken Baby Syndrome), impact of opioid use on babies, and the infant CPR overview. Then everyone received a free dinner and dessert. Big items such as car seats and pack-and-plays were raffled off, with every mom in attendance receiving a raffle item. “At the very end, the mothers gather up the diaper bag full of supplies, a ‘Momma’ bag (with a Bible, devotional book, and supplies moms need after delivery), a bag of clothes, a laundry basket full of blankets, and a stroller,” Hamrick described. “Most of the moms are overwhelmed at the amount of needed supplies they received.”

Beaver described the joy in watching a room full of strangers become friends. “Each member of the team brought a different skill set, but God was able to use those skill sets to make His glory known,” she explained. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve a week in Jenkins with this group of students and my colleague.”

The mission trip was a first for junior Kylie Taylor, of Burnsville, N.C. She enjoyed getting to know and work alongside the other young ladies on the team, learning about the needs in Jenkins, and showing God’s love to the mothers. “We truly became a family, and it helped me to get even closer with God,” she said. “I am so beyond thankful for all the wonderful people I was blessed to spend time with on this trip. It was awesome to see how everyone’s love showed when hosting the baby shower and how it was felt by the people who attended.”

Team member Chloe Collins described how she stepped out of her comfort zone to talk to the mothers who came to the shower alone. “I truly felt God lay on my heart to stand up from where I was sitting with the ladies from GWU and sit with the mothers who came to the baby shower alone,” she related. “I made such amazing and personal connections and conversations with some of the mothers. I also really enjoyed the look on their faces when they realized all they were able to take home. Their faces and just knowing that you are helping them give their baby the best chance at a good life is just so rewarding, words just cannot fully explain.”

Kaylee Maynor, of Shelby, N.C., a nursing major with a minor in youth discipleship, said the experience was humbling. “It really opened my eyes to how blessed I truly am,” she related. “I learned so much on this trip, such as how to work together as a team and how to serve with a selfless heart. We helped encourage one another and really worked well together to pull off the baby shower for the moms.”

The skills she learned on the one-week trip will stay with her as she pursues her careers in healthcare and ministry. “Teamwork is an important skill to have no matter what profession you are in,” Maynor asserted. “I also learned how to communicate better, which will help me to communicate with my coworkers and patients. I learned how to listen with empathy. I was able to put myself in these mothers’ shoes and work to understand what they may be feeling. This will be important as I work to minister to youth in my church.”

Team Members

  • Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Hunt School of Nursing Dr. Anna Hamrick.
  • Nursing Instructor Nicole Beaver.
  • Emma Kate Harrison, of Robbinsville, N.C., psychology major.
  • Kaylee Maynor, of Shelby, N.C., nursing major, youth discipleship minor.
  • Breanna Littlejohn, of Gaffney, S.C., exercise science major.
  • Kylie Taylor, of Burnsville, N.C., biology/biomedical sciences major, chemistry and healthcare management minors.
  • Chloe Collins, of Hickory, N.C., elementary education major, psychology minor.
  • Miranda Shealy, of Shelby, N.C., elementary education major.

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 Gardner-Webb.edu.

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