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First there was the emergency C-section, a sudden and traumatic experience on its own.
Then they found out their son was born, much to their surprise, with Down syndrome.
They were filled with many different emotions at first, including shock, not knowing how to process the diagnosis.
But life went on. And they fell in love with their boy — and all the unexpected blessings he brought their family.
On Jack’s first birthday, Carissa knew she wanted to do something special to celebrate him. But she also wanted to honor the many other families about to embark on their own similar journeys.
So she created Jack’s Basket, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that sends free gift baskets to families welcoming babies with Down syndrome.
Already, the organization has welcomed 300 babies.
“In any life experience, receiving unexpected news can be very difficult,” Carissa Carroll said. “To have another person come alongside and share in their experience often gives hope and healing, knowing that you are not alone.”
Each basket contains a personal letter from Jack’s family, a personalized onesie, a blanket, a hand-knit hat and booties, inspirational books, moving memoirs, a lullaby CD and toys endorsed by Jack.
Though the basket also includes educational brochures and local resources, those aren’t the most important part, said Carroll.
“I found the best resource for us in our new journey was not reading the books on Down syndrome; it was hearing from actual families who are loving and living their lives, raising their child with Down syndrome,” she said. “I am hopeful this will be the first of many of the unexpected blessings that their child will bring them.”
Baskets are delivered to local hospitals and birth centers to families who consent to accepting them.
Friends and family can request baskets, too. Jack’s Basket also delivers baskets via USPS within the U.S.
Each basket costs $70 to assemble, so donations are gladly accepted.
Learn more at jacksbasket.org.
Chris and Carissa Carroll of Shoreview pose with their children, Jack, 4, Luke, 6, and Taylor, 2. Photos by Vick Photography / vickphotography.com
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