Members of Rotary Club of the Riverbend Alton/Godfrey recently made a $2,000 donation to Riverbend Head Start & Family Services to support newborn sleep kits. Pictured from left: Casey Cope and Gene Howel from Head Start, along with Rotary members Michelle Wittman, Leslie Schobernd, Jeanne Truckey, Matt Kotzamanis, Jeremy Watters, Diane Schuette and Eric McRoy.ALTON - The Rotary Club of the Riverbend Alton/Godfrey recently donated over $2,000 to Riverbend Head Start & Family Services as part of grant funding from Rotary International to support sleep safety for newborns.

Through the Early Head Start Home-Based Program, expecting moms receive education about the importance of the proper sleep position for newborns, which is: alone on their backs in a crib. Cribettes, developed by Cribs for Kids®, are distributed to eligible expecting moms in Madison County.

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“We are pleased to partner with the Rotary Club of the Riverbend Alton/Godfrey club to provide Cribs for Kids® safe sleep kits which provide cribettes and education about the dangers of unsafe sleep environments to expecting moms,” said Gene Howell, President & CEO of Riverbend Head Start & Family Services.

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“The donation from Riverbend Rotary helps to support 10 sleep kits with English education and 10 sleep kits with education in Spanish. We are certainly appreciative of the Rotary Club of the Riverbend Alton/Godfrey for their continued support of our mission and services.”

Rotary Club of the Riverbend Alton/Godfrey club members met with Casey Cope, Health Specialist from Riverbend Head Start & Family Services, who shared information about the impact of the donation. ”Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) is a leading cause of death in newborns. The deaths often occur during sleep or in the baby’s sleep environment, sometimes caused by accidental suffocation,” she said. Casey noted that their Health Advocates visit expecting moms each month prior to their due dates and then support them through the first three years of a baby’s life.

For more information about the safe sleep program for newborns offered by the Early Head Start program, contact Melanie Steen at (618) 463-5901.

Rotary, the world’s first service club organization, is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. The local Rotary Club of the Riverbend Alton/Godfrey meets at Noon every Thursday at Senior Services Plus in Alton. For more information on membership, please visit

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