Donate a crib to save lives this Christmas

December 12, 2008 6:12:59 PM PST
It is a basic item that can save a newborn's life. But for some families, having it can be a hardship. We're talking about cribs, and now, you can really make a difference.

It is a horrible statistic, but between 2004 and 2006, sleeping in an unsafe environment was responsible for more than half of all accidental infant deaths. The city's Department of Health reacted with a program called Cribs for Kids. It sends cribs to needy families, courtesy of generous New Yorkers.

It is a special Christmas delivery, a possibly life-saving gift from the New York City Cribs for Kids program, which delivers free cribs to needy parents of newborns. They're parents like Samantha Edwards, who knows why cribs are better for her month-old daughter Sasha than sleeping in mama's bed.

"Sometime in a deep dose of sleep, I might turn and cover her," she said. "Or the blanket might cover her face and I don't know."

Nina Vega, from Cribs for Kids, goes over the safety program's details with Samantha before unveiling all the goodies.

"Samatha's going to get the crib, which also doubles as a playpen during the day," she said. "A snuggly sleep suit, so that no blanket is needed that might suffocate the baby; sheets and a netting to prevent mosquitoes during the summer.

Then, Nina assembles the crib for Samantha. As with other good cribs, little Sasha's has a firm mattress with no soft bedding. Each crib is brand new. A contribution of $100 is all that is needed to help one baby sleep more safely. A non-profit group called the Fund for Public Health has joined with the city to try and get 250 more donations during the holiday season.

"We know that there are 10,000 families in New York who could benefit from a program like this," the fund's Pamela Nathenson said.

Samantha and Sasha are one such family.

"A lot of parents can't afford to buy the cribs, and it's safety for the kids themselves also," Samantha said.

All for a $100 dollar gift. It is a little bit of support that can go a long way in saving lives.

Kids should be placed on their backs to sleep, and stuffed animals and other fluffy toys should be kept out of the crib to prevent suffocation. The program has already provided 1,600 cribs for New York mothers since 2007.

If you're interested in making a contribution of a crib to a needy New York family, call 212-266-7824 or -5290, or you can visit FPHNY.org.

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STORY BY: Medical reporter Dr. Jay Adlersberg

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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