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US Franciscans gather “swaddling clothes” to send to Bethlehem

Washington's Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land

Franciscan Monastery | Facebook | Fair Use

J-P Mauro - published on 12/20/19 - updated on 12/20/19

All proceeds are directed towards the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem.

The Fransiscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America is gathering baby clothes to send to the town of Christ’s birth, Bethlehem. The clothing drive has already gathered a small mountain of clothing, in a successful campaign that flourished under the slogan, “Swaddling Clothes Need.” 

The slogan refers to the biblical account of the Nativity, which says Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes before placing him in the manger. This is the fourth year that the Franciscans have held this clothing drive and it seems to get more successful each year.

While they asked for clothing in which to “swaddle” a newborn — a process of wrapping a baby snugly within a single cloth or blanket — they did not receive any clothes with which a child could be actually swaddled, as this practice is largely out of style. They did, however, gather tons of warm, baby-sized articles of clothing, which will be shipped to the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem for Christmas.

Rhina Guidos, of Catholic News Service, reports that the donated clothes will go to support those Palestinians living in the West-Bank of Israel, where a recent tax revenue freeze has caused people to go without power or water in some of the coldest months in the region. Bethlehem is within the borders of the West Bank and has been similarly affected by the economic crisis.

The Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem expects just under 5,000 babies to be born in 2020 and these donations will help those families who are already struggling under the weight of medical expenses for the delivery. Michele Burke Bowe, of the hospital’s Washington-based foundation, noted that all proceeds will go towards families in need regardless of ethnicity or creed. She told CNA that they will care for any child born in their hospital because:

“As Catholics, we value life.”

The clothing drive ends in December, but the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem says they welcome donations for the many more works they perform. These would go towards their neonatal intensive care unit, which tends to babies born critically ill. Visit their website for more details.

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