Q&A with Katie Fiene

Director of Swaddling Clothes

“‘God has filled our hearts with the desire to love our neighbor. But how do we do that?’ This was a question that the saints of River of Life Lutheran Church in Channahon, Ill., were asking ourselves a few years ago,” the Rev. Hans Fiene explains. “We found the answer in Swaddling Clothes, a program we designed to provide baby-related items to those who need them.”

Fiene’s wife, Katie, now serves as director of Swaddling Clothes and assists other congregations in starting the program. Hear from Katie how this mercy work began.

Q. What is Swaddling Clothes?

: Swaddling Clothes is a program that gives clothing, diapers, [baby] wipes and other child-related items to families in need. Providing for little ones can be overwhelming. We like to offer whatever help we can. We are a reliable and stable resource for families when they need it.

Q. Why the name?

: For months, we called it “the mom store” because we couldn’t find the right title. Then my husband came home one day and said he had the perfect idea. Swaddling Clothes was indeed the perfect name. It brings us back to the Bible: “And she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger” (Luke 2:7).

Q. You have young sons. How do you explain the importance of life to them?

: It really isn’t hard to teach a child that life is sacred and has value no matter how small or how old. I wish I didn’t have to explain to them that there are others who don’t find value in all life. But it allows me to reiterate that it is extremely important to stand up, stand for and stand by what is right. It doesn’t matter what we find value in; it matters that God sees each and every life as equally valuable.

Q. What advice can you offer a congregation that wants to speak up for life?

: The beauty of a program like this is that each congregation can customize this program to suit the resources of the congregation or needs of the community. Doing something like Swaddling Clothes isn’t hard. It can be as big or as small as you need it to be. Action behind our words is a strong statement to our communities.

Q. What’s a memory from your work that stands out?

: My husband was able to baptize five kids from one family on Christmas Eve a couple of years ago. That was a pretty emotional and memorable event for the whole congregation. But not every child or parent that comes in is in need of a church family. We don’t do Swaddling Clothes to gain members. We run this program to do what Christians are supposed to do: help their neighbors.

Q. How has stocking diapers and organizing tiny clothes reminded you that our Lord gives value to each life?

: When you know the names and faces of the families that these diapers will be given to, when you know their struggles and challenges, it reminds you of how God loves us individually … and how Christ’s salvation is a gift that is given to us individually.

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