Local mom whose twin boys died finds happiness by providing Christmas for other children
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RIGBY — One local mom turned the tragedy of losing her kids into an opportunity to serve other children in need.
After years of fertility treatments, Rigby couple Keith and Natalie Mecham learned they were expecting twins. On Nov. 17, 2011, James and Jayden Mecham were born at 23 weeks gestation, or 17 weeks early. Due to being born so premature, they only lived for 34 hours.
As the couple tried to deal with the heartache they felt from the loss of their boys, they decided to channel that energy into doing something for other children. They had donated toys at Christmas time for children in need in years past, but in 2011, they chose several children from the Salvation Army Angel Tree program to provide Christmas for in honor of their sons.
“Each year as we went through the holiday season we found buying Christmas for other children helped us cope with our own pain and gave us so much joy, it became a tradition for us,” Natalie said.
Natalie found out she was pregnant again and also with another set of twins in 2012. Early on during her pregnancy she had complications and was put on bed rest. It was during this time that she discovered her love for watercolors.
Her twin daughters were born at 29 weeks gestation and spent nearly two months in the NICU. Not long after bringing them home, she decided to start selling some of her artwork that she’d created online, which eventually grew into a small business.
“In 2016, I decided that I would use all the money I made from my art during the month of October to buy Christmas for more Angel Tree kids,” Natalie explained. “I was able to buy Christmas for 15 children that year.”
Thanks to the success she had, the following year she invited some of her artist friends from all over the world to join her for an online art auction called “Art for Christmas.” The goal was to raise money to buy Christmas gifts for children in southeast Idaho. That year, they provided Christmas to 22 children.
“That was the first year my daughters were able to really understand what I was doing,” she said. “They helped me choose toys and clothes that year. They believe we are simply helping Santa because he isn’t able to get enough toys for all the children. They have loved the idea that they are making Santa’s life easier.”
The auction inspired her to ask a few artists to form a Facebook group with her where they would auction off artwork and donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. The Creative Kind Facebook group launched July 2018. Since then, they have donated 20% of their sales each month to a wide variety of charities that help children, veterans, the elderly and animals. But every October, they donate funds to the Idaho Falls Salvation Army Angel Tree.
Natalie, with the help of her friends, has donated nearly $24,000 to charities since 2016. This past October, they raised $530 for the Angel Tree, and Natalie will be choosing five children that she and her family will pick out clothing and toys for to unwrap for Christmas.
“I could let the sadness and heartache of all that I have lost drain me, but I have found that focusing on serving others, especially children brings me so much joy and happiness, it helps fill that void,” Natalie stated. “The Creative Kind has given me that outlet so that I can help others all year long. … We have over 2,000 members in our group and each one has helped grow this little family tradition into a worldwide effort to spread kindness through art.”
The Creative Kind’s charity for November is featuring Golden Retriever Rescue and Community Education. The auction will take place Nov. 18 to 19.