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Elaine Cole
Faye Bell and Barbara Van Rij holding up some of the homemade quilts.

Barbara Van Rij, a member of Fallbrook First Ward, Vista California Stake Relief Society, continues to make substantial contributions to Mom's 1st Baby, a military newborn program.

Mom's 1st Baby program is part of the Military Outreach Ministry, a program run by Faye Bell, an ex-Navy pilot on the Camp Pendleton Marine Base, and designed to give young couples a gift basket of needed baby items. It is open to all branches of the armed services, nationwide and serves both active duty and wounded veteran parents-to-be.

"The program has been so successful we have been able to extend it out from Camp Pendleton to 30 other military bases in 16 different states throughout the USA," Bell said.

When the group from the Fallbrook First Ward Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, under the direction of humanitarian specialist Mary Kay Tanner, traveled to Camp Pendleton, the members were met by Marines who helped them carry the baby supplies to the large storage room. Bell then took the group on a tour of the facility to show how the gift baskets are assembled.

Volunteers divide the baby clothes into colors, styles and sizes, Bell said. There were baskets, baby bottles, infant toys washcloths, towels, baby wipes, diapers, pacifiers, cards and many more baby essentials to put into the baskets.

"Handmade quilts and blankets are a premium," Bell said, "because they are considered to be an heirloom."

Bell said, “One hundred and forty-one babies are born each day in a San Diego County military hospital. As a result, the Mom’s 1st Baby program is our very most popular program. Of the 141 born, we figure 70 percent are firstborns."

The Vista California Stake Relief Society has been volunteering to supply new and handmade products for Mom's 1st Baby program for the last four years. Fallbrook wards are assigned one month each year to provide baby supplies for the baskets.

Van Rij last year donated 21 handmade quilts. This year she donated 18 handmade quilts and 65 knit baby caps.

Bell explained to Van Rij that the quilts she donated last year were used for a fund-raising raffle. When asked how long it took Van Rij to make the quilts, she said it took her one and one-half months, but added that she didn't want any publicity for what she thought was "doing her best for those in need."

The Military Outreach Ministry offers many other services to military families in addition to the Mom's 1st Baby program. For information, go to mom4usa.org.

Elaine Cole is an assistant media representative for the Vista California Stake in Southern California.