Dozens of Colorado Springs families won’t need anything other than an oven for Thanksgiving  dinner this year.

For the fifth year in a row, the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization of Catholic men, delivered laundry baskets filled to the brim with pie, green beans, dinner rolls, frozen turkeys and pans, to the 75 families in the Colorado Spring Pregnancy Center’s LifeSteps Program.

The program provides education, support, and practical assistance for parents and future parents, from the time of pregnancy, until their child turns 2. The turkey baskets are just one way the program aims to help families prosper.

“In the downturn of the economy, we’ve seen an increase in need,” said the center’s community relations directors Laura Howe. “Building healthy families is important for the community.”

Five years ago, the Knights of Columbus dropped off 15 baskets to Colorado Springs families. The 75 baskets they dropped off at 3700 Galley Road late Saturday morning were just a portion of the 314 assembled by the Knights and other volunteers, to go to various organizations around the state.

The pregnancy center, operated under the faith-based umbrella organization, Life Network, now serves 130 people and operates on church and individual donations.
Participants in LifeSteps attend one-on-one appointments with volunteer coaches twice a month, where they learn about prenatal and post-pregnancy care. By doing homework and attending appointments, participants earn “baby bucks” that are redeemable in the center’s LifeSteps Baby Boutique for clothes, blankets, brand new cribs and car seats.

“We got 90 percent of what we needed for him through them,” said Valerie Vance, who held her 8-month-old son, Ayden, on her hip.  “When I found out I was pregnant, it was not a good situation.”

In 2004, Vance and her family moved to Colorado Springs from a hurricane-devastated area in Florida, and shared a  three bedroom condo between 10 people.  When she found out she was pregnant, her youngest child at the time, was 10. 

“We didn’t have anything,” she said.  Without the help of the program, Vance said she would “probably still be in tears,” and she now refers people to LifeSteps.

While the center primarily reaches out to teen and first-time mothers, the LifeSteps program has expanded to help mothers of all ages. Fathers-to-be are also encouraged come, even if they’re not involved with the mother.

Valerie Pond came to the program when she was 4 months pregnant. She’d heard that it provided maternity clothes.

“In addition to finding out I was pregnant, I had lost my job,” said Pond as she picked up a basket with her son, 16-month old Malachi. Pond said the turkey baskets are just another amazing thing the program has provided.