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Belton couple raising money for NICU goodie bags

Posted at 8:24 PM, Nov 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-24 07:05:38-05

BELTON, Texas — In 2014 Lauren and Ben Dudley were prepared to welcome their first baby Christopher into the world on October 8. Instead, their bundle of joy made his appearance five weeks early on September 7.

"We were there unexpectedly," Lauren said.

"I just went into labor prematurely and we didn't have anything packed so we just kind of threw stuff into the car and went to the hospital."

They had spent about a week and a half with him in the NICU and told 25 News that they felt a bit unprepared for their stay.

"We were pretty fortunate, it could have been a lot worse," Ben said.

"What would we have done if he had been in there a month or two months? How would we have coped? I think that was the sparked that grew for Lauren."

The Dudleys started to make NICU comfort bags for other families who are the same boat. Each year around Christmas they deliver them to local hospitals near where they are living at that time.

"When we were still in North Carolina and at the hospital where Christopher was born, I would get teary eyed every year because I remember walking in and walking out and how different life was every time I did that, so I have a feeling of what the parents are going through," Lauren said.

The bags are filled with toiletries, snacks, gift cards, a blanket and a few words of encouragement.

"We give a little note in the bag that says this is what happened to us and we hope your journey isn't too bad," she said.

"Just know there is a light at the end of tunnel usually."

They say they occasionally will get an email from parents who received their bag saying thank you, which means a lot. This year they will donate their 1,000th bag.

If you're interested in donating to the comfort bags, they have a GoFundMe and an Amazon Wish List set up to help.