Maternity Department Experiences True Spirit of the Season. . . from a 13-Year-Old

FMC Foundation 13 yr old donationCaitlyn Messbarger, eighth grade student of Rushville Middle School, is the Fairfield Medical Center Foundation’s newest philanthropist. “She told me last year she didn’t need anything for Christmas, at least from us, and instead wanted to help the less fortunate,” says local grandparents Jerry and Beverly Messbarger. “So we took ornaments off the Giving Tree at St. Mary’s Church to purchase gifts for those in need. They are mostly for the elderly and the homebound, and she knows how much that means to me.

This year Caitlyn wanted to help children in the hospital, so she and her grandmother met with our FMC Foundation to discuss opportunities for support. After learning about fetal demise and infant loss in Fairfield County, Caitlyn chose the Maternity Department of Fairfield Medical Center as her charity project for this holiday season.

“Greater Fairfield County had 24 sleep-related deaths that were preventable from 2008 to 2012,” said Eva Payne, FMC maternity clinical educator. Ohio is one of the highest states in infant mortality rates, listed as 47th for Caucasian and 50th for African-American. “To be proactive for our patients and community, FMC is now providing each new infant with a HALO SleepSack Swaddle to encourage safe sleep practices,” said Payne. A swaddle is a wearable blanket that promotes safe sleep by keeping infants from entanglement in extra bedding materials that may cause suffocation, strangulation or other dangers that could result in sudden infant death syndrome.

Caitlyn is generously donating her Christmas cash this year to FMC for the purchase of eight HALO SleepSack Swaddles. Caitlyn’s generosity did not stop there. For some parents the joy of pregnancy does not always have a happy outcome. It can be a time of loss and grieving. In those situations the Maternity Department works together to create and provide the family with a bereavement box filled with mementos such as a keepsake impression of the infant’s footprint, a ring, a donated handmade garment, identification bands and photos if elected. The importance of this bereavement box is to help provide healing and comfort to the family.

In 2013, FMC supported approximately seven families who experienced this type of loss. So far this year, services have been provided to five families experiencing infant death. Funds from Caitlyn’s gift will also be used to purchase two bereavement boxes.

Caitlyn has goals of becoming a nurse or physician, but for now, she is a true philanthropist. She recently inspired her cousin Vanessa to give up part of her Christmas and take ornaments off a Giving Tree to purchase gifts for those in need. Vanessa will also be helping the elderly and homebound.

While many students at the age of 13 would be eagerly anticipating gifts under the tree this week, Caitlyn is reminding us all of the true spirit of this season.

Residing with parents Bart and Carie, Caitlyn has three siblings, brothers Cody and Colton, and sister Myah.

If you are inspired by her story and would like to help support a similar cause at FMC, please contact Latricia Johnson at 740-687-8348 or

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