Family celebrates birthday of former NICU baby by giving back to other families

Posted at 8:52 PM, Dec 23, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:36-04

A Hewitt family who had a baby in a neonatal intensive care unit three years ago is giving back to families who are going through a similar experience this holiday season.

Janelle McCollum’s daughter Jaylee was born prematurely on Dec. 23, 2013, weighing one pound at six ounces. She spent more than three months in the NICU at Scott & White Medical Center.

"She’s definitely a Christmas miracle. She was a Christmas blessing, a Christmas present. I think the best Christmas present in the world,” McCollum said.

According to McCollum, when her daughter was born, she received a stocking with a letter inside from a parent who had a NICU baby born at a similar weight than her daughter the year before. That baby had just turned one, when McCollum received that letter.

"I told myself if we could get to that point a year later and we could give back like they had given. That's kind of where it started,” McCollum said.

On Friday, the family delivered gift bags for 35 families in the NICU filled with items they can use during their time there, including hand-knitted hats, snacks, stockings and Jaylee’s story.

“For the awareness alone that there are some rough times but if you can start at one pound and you get through everything you need to get through in the NICU and be happy and healthy at age. Hopefully that could help some other parents who are in the same situation to let them know there is some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Most of the items were donated by friends and strangers, some from other parts of the country.

This is the third year the family has given presents to the families with newborns in the NICU.

To learn more about Jaylee's story, click here.

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