Through its eighth annual Candlelighting and Remembrance event, Footprints on the Heart will continue providing an opportunity for families impacted by pregnancy or infant loss to come together. Set for Saturday, the offering will be presented at the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce, 122 W. Main St.
“Our first event was held in October 2012, and we honored 40 babies," said Cartersville resident Khristie Staines, FOTH's cofounder and president. "We began this event because we wanted a time for families to come together and be able to freely speak of their baby and to be amongst others who had faced loss. All in an effort to show them that they were not alone on their grief journey.
“At our 2019 event, we will be honoring around 900 precious babies whose lives were much too brief. What a sacred honor it is to have personally been introduced — in person, by phone or through social media — to every single baby that is represented.”
Like past years, FOTH's Candlelighting and Remembrance event will be presented during National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Expected to last about three hours, the event will begin with food provided in part by Adam’s Bar-B-Q, Chili’s of Cartersville and Cookie Momsters.
“Following the meal, we will light our candles together, and we will have various speakers sharing their story of loss and their grief journey,” Staines said. “We will have a singer sharing her musical gift with us as well.
“Just truly a night of fellowship with one another. To let families know that they are not alone. We are here. Not just on day one, but also on day 2,001.”
Becoming a nonprofit in 2016, FOTH was initially formed by Staines following the stillborn delivery of her granddaughter in February 2011.
“My passion for walking alongside families during loss increases daily,” Staines said. “I have a close-knit family and circle of friends who truly know and understand the depth of my passion. I am thankful for each and everyone of them. Without them supporting me and taking care of my son Trevor while I leave the comforts of home or a family event to go serve, well there is no way we could do what we do.
“Our ministry has been introduced to right around 100 babies this year alone and a number of those were served in person at the time of loss with continued peer-based support offered via phone/social media. We may spend 10 minutes in the hospital serving a family, or we might spend 18-plus hours with a family at the hospital. Each situation is unique. We have seen God opening windows of opportunity for our ministry this year, and we look forward to see what He has in store in 2020 and the years ahead.”
Along with events like Saturday’s, FOTH serves families experiencing pregnancy or infant loss by supplying HOPE boxes — filled with personalized items — to three hospitals and one funeral home, along with delivering them directly to those impacted.
“Footprints on the Heart really showed us more than support,” said India Dean, whose daughter Emmalyn was delivered stillborn in September. “We were showed it’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be angry and happy.
“It’s OK to feel all these emotions, but most of all it’s OK to talk about our angel, anytime and anywhere,” she said, adding she is "eternally thankful for the support, love, memories and compassion" they received from FOTH.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/footprintsontheheart.ga/ or call Staines at 770-547-4333.