Grieving Mom Honors Late Daughter By Ensuring More Kids Have Access To Toys

"From your greatest tragedy can come something beautiful."

Motherhood isn't uniform. There's no standard path, as parenting more often resembles a rollercoaster with unforeseen twists and turns. But after tragedy struck for Jessica Bachus in January 2007, when her daughter Kenzi was stillborn at 24 weeks,  the bereaved mother ultimately found new direction in life by foregoing her teaching career to launch Dolls for Daughters — an initiative to support underprivileged families by providing children with toys, food, school supplies, and clothes.

Prior to Kenzi's passing, Bachus and her husband, Kyle, dreamt of the day when their eldest daughter, Bailey, and her baby sister could play together, and envisioned twice as many dolls under the Christmas tree in the coming years. But, without Kenzi, Bachus opted to redirect her desire to gift dolls to her local community instead. That holiday season, the Bachus family made it their mission to collect as many dolls as possible — more than 150 in total — and donate them to families who were struggling. 

"I was a school teacher for three years and was in graduate school when I decided to collect dolls for girls in our community in 2007," Bachus tells A Plus. "I thought I would be one and done. As the holidays of 2008 came, and I had two living children, I wanted to see how much we could do. It was after Christmas in 2008 that I decided I wanted to start a charity and be able to be there for my living children with more flexibility than my previous job."

Since its inception nine years ago, Dolls for Daughters and its spinoff program, Toys for Boys, have served more than 48,000 underprivileged children in the Colorado area, with more than 323,400 items gifted to families throughout the community.

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Bachus notes that, over time, the non-profit has grown from one toy shop in the state to four. Dolls for Daughters also spawned Kenzi's Kidz, which helps relieve the financial burdens of low-income families who are taking necessary steps to create a stable environment for their children. Through Kenzi's Kidz, those in need gain access to school supplies, clothing, extracurricular activities and birthday and holiday gifts for a year. After going back to school for a certificate in non-profit management and leadership, Bachus also created the Packz4Kidz program to provide backpacks and school supplies for children ranging from preschool to 12th grade. 

While she will always grieve for Kenzi, Bachus credits Bailey with giving her a reason to wake up each morning. "In the beginning it was all so raw and painful, but now I have been able to channel that into something beautiful," Bachus explained. "My strength after Kenzi died came fom my older daughter Bailey. I knew that I had to get up each day and take care of her and give her the mother and life she deserves. There were times when I wasn't at my best, but she gave me the strength to continue." 

Now, as Bachus and her husband told Woman's Day, they have four children — "three that walk and one that soars" — Bailey, Kam, Karson, and Kenzi. Bachus hopes that, by volunteering and helping the community as a family, she can impart one of life's greatest lessons: "From your greatest tragedy can come something beautiful.

"I think this work brings all of us closer to Kenzi and her memory," she adds. "It also allows our family to give back to our community together and it feels really good."

Bachus's initiative also serves as inspiration for those who've also lost children, as her example demonstrates that, while such tragedy changes a person irrevocably, you can continue to live in a way that honors the memory of the deceased every day.

If you or someone you know has suffered the loss of an infant, check out the Dolls for Daughters resource page, which offers information and support.

Cover image via Pixabay / Pexels

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