An infant found in a cooler at a Chicago Ridge recycling facility will have a proper burial, courtesy of a nonprofit organization that donates funeral and burial arrangements for abandoned babies.
The funeral Mass will be held at 11:30 a.m. today, May 16, at Our Lady of the Ridge Catholic Church, 10811 S. Ridgeland Avenue in Chicago Ridge. Interment will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Worth.
The Rest in His Arms Foundation, the nonprofit organization that donated the funeral service, burial gown and casket, named the baby Jeremiah Michael. Jeremiah means “God will set him free” and St. Michael is the patron saint of police, according to foundation volunteer Susan Walker’s Facebook page.
“All of us at Rest in His Arms and the wonderful people from the Chicago Ridge Police Department have claimed Jeremiah as our own,” Walker wrote. “This child will not be buried as a nobody.”
The baby boy’s body was found wrapped in a blue towel inside a small red cooler on a conveyor belt at Resource Management Company in Chicago Ridge, according to police. An employee noticed the cooler was heavier than it should have been, police said. The Advanced Disposal garbage truck that brought the load in which the cooler arrived had made stops in Pleasant Prairie, Wisc., North Chicago and Waukegan on April 29, police said. The loads were relocated to Kenosha, Wisc., and transferred to a truck that drove to the Chicago Ridge sorting facility on April 30. Police have had no phone calls or leads as to who may have put the cooler in the trash, police said.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office released Jeremiah Michael’s body to Glueckert Funeral Home in Arlington Heights, and the foundation had carpools from Arlington Heights to Our Lady of the Ridge. The organization’s volunteers also provide music, flowers, and a minister at the funeral service. A burial gown was donated by Heaven Sent Baby, and features a blue cross and his name stitched on it, according to a photo on Walker’s Facebook page.
Rest in His Arms has since 2005 provided funerals for more than 17 abandoned babies.
“These children are precious – even if they only lived for one minute,” reads a statement on restinhisarms.org. “Allowed to provide each child with a name, none of ‘our’ babies are forgotten about as a ‘John Doe.’”
The organization’s volunteers urge people to educate others about the Safe Haven Law, which allows parents to leave infants up to 30 days old with a staff member at a fire or police station, university security station or hospital, without legal consequence.