Our Story - by Mary Jo Prinsen, Founder and President
last updated August 18, 2007
How did it all begin? I’ve been asked several times recently to explain how Bundles of Love was started. Why did I decide to start this volunteer charity? How long has it been in existence? The evolution of Bundles of Love has been a faith-building experience for me and I’ve come to believe that God had a hand in the creation of Bundles of Love. Here is a brief summary of Bundles of Love’s history.
In February 1999, my husband and I entered the Internet age. We purchased a home computer and obtained service to access the World Wide Web. In spite of my doubts that we really needed a computer at home, I became intrigued by the vast amount of information at my fingertips.
During my late night “surfing” expeditions, I stumbled into many web-sites related to my hobbies – sewing and needlework – and became aware of some of the many charities who have benefited from the ease and low-cost of networking and communicating via the information super-highway. I was especially drawn to charities aimed at helping infants.
At first I was dubious that so many infants could be in need in our wealthy country, but soon I became determined to clean out my fabric stash and start helping. My time was limited and I determined that paying postage to mail items long distances would further curtail my ability to help.
I sought the counsel of my supportive mother (Joanne Larsen, now the leader of the Rochester Bundles of Love work group) about starting a local sewing group. Then, I stubbornly disregarded her advice to avoid over-committing myself and jumped in any way – over my head, but unable to ignore the strength of the inner voice that told me I needed to do this. Being a very supportive mother, she, of course, bit her tongue. Newly retired from her nursing career, she agreed to help and recruited fellow retired nurse Mary Rossman.
By late April, Marilyn Rukavina, one of my former co-workers, and Maggie Holland, who had found us through an internet message board joined the effort and the 5 of us became the local chapter board of directors for a national charity. Initially, we met in Marilyn’s home.
Our first goal became making up five infant layettes that we had agreed to provide to a Dakota County crisis pregnancy center called Life Care Center. We worked on sewing baby quilts, blankets, and clothing and found a few more volunteers.
We made our first donation in June, and agreed to continue to provide 5 bags of infant bedding and clothing each month for the clients of Life Care Center who had been determined to be in the greatest financial need. We provided bags of hand-made items, and through another agency, Life Care provided a crib to each of the families.
We continued to meet this goal, then started exceeding it as word of mouth brought in more donated supplies and volunteers, as well as more requests for our help by area clinics and hospitals.
Work groups later formed in the North Metro, South Metro, Rochester, and in 2001, our local board of directors, after having researched requirements for setting up a state-based non-profit organization, moved forward and Bundes of Love was “born” in the state of Minnesota. Our name later officially became “Bundles of Love Charity”, and we are a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Minnesota to help Minnesota families.
Today, Bundles of Love volunteers are supporting approximately 40 hospitals and other organizations which serve infants and their families in Minnesota. In 2006, over 55,000 items were delivered to help over 3,300 families. Approximately 200 volunteer events were held during 2006 and the effort continues to grow. In 2007, we are on track to help over 3,500 families and deliver more than 60,000 items of essential infant clothing and bedding.
With the continued support of generous volunteers and donors, our growth will continue until we reach our ultimate goal – that no family in Minnesota who needs clothing and bedding for their newborn, correctly sized clothing for premature infant, comfort items for their hospitalized infant, or bereavement items for a lost infant – will be without these items. And stitched in to every item, will be a generous amount of caring and love which will tell these families that we are intertwined as one caring community of neighbors.
We invite you to join the “Bundles of Love Story.”