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Jerry Costello

The Crib Rescuers
September 20, 2015

For the Adrians, it started with one crib. Then came another, and then one more. After that came a couple of kids’ car seats. A child’s mattress or two added to the mix. And then… Well, before you knew it, the Adrians—Margee, 64, and her husband, Denny, 65—found themselves providing baby supplies to needy children all over the St. Paul-Minneapolis area. Full-time. What’s more, they love it; they treasure it. 

                “When we started all this,” says Denny, a retired Minnesota state trooper, “I wanted to help the poorest of the poor because it was a pro-life thing to me…to give a car seat and a crib to someone who needed it for their baby.”

                Margee describes their work as a ministry. “For me it comes down to this,” she said. “Are you going to ignore them, or are you going to do the things God wants you to do?”

                The Adrians told their story to Bob Zyskowski of The Catholic Spirit, not because they’re seeking publicity and certainly not because they’re looking for help. Denny says he knows now about all kind of baby cribs. “I learned in my lifetime,” he said, “but I still have the Holy Spirit guiding me.”

                That first crib came their way in 2012, when a man wanted to donate it to the Highland LifeCare Center in St. Paul. Margee, working there as a volunteer, explained that safety requirements no longer made his gift acceptable. Frustrated, the man told her he had already tried giving the crib to three thrift stores, and that he’d probably burn it just to rid himself of what apparently had become an unwanted nuisance.

                “Don’t do that,” she said. “Put it in my van.”

                That got the ball rolling, and Denny went to work making the crib code-compliant—and ensuring that it went to a needy family. In Zyskowski’s words, that was the first of 500 cribs that the Adrians have “rescued, refurbished, delivered and even set up” for families who needed them. Some 250 were delivered in the past year alone.

                Every square inch of the Adrians’ home is taken up with cribs, car seats, mattresses, extra crib rails, changing tables. They come from garage sales, thrift stores, even Craigslist. “I’m a very good shopper,” says Margee, without a trace of pride in her voice. When a crib is on sale for $30, she’ll talk the seller down to $20—and when she explains how it will be used, she often gets it for nothing at all. Word-of-mouth took care of all referrals at first; now the Adrians are likely to hear from social workers, nurses, hospital staff members, the Missionaries of Charity, organizations like Birthright. There’s no shortage, it seems, of families and mothers only too glad to accept a gift for their babies.

                Margee likes the way their mission has spurred others’ generosity. She puts two crib sheets and a blanket into every crib they deliver; they come from donated articles. A man writes checks in fairly large amounts; she uses them to buy more items.

                “It’s catching,” she said. “People want to be part of it.”

                Denny Adrian struck a more reflective tone. “If you got the hugs and the tears of gratitude we get, you’d see why we do this,” he said. “It’s a mission that just fell into our hands.”


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