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Alexandria craft show to boost Paislee's Foundation

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Jessica and Tyler Cripps hold their one-year-old daughter, Josee. The Alexandria couple's first child, Paislee, was stillborn in May 2013. They have since created Paislee's Foundation to assist with burials for infants and children up to three years of ag

Non-profit assists families with burials for infants

An Alexandria-based non-profit organization that has helped families throughout the Lebanon area with infant burials since 2013 plans to hold a craft show fund-raiser on Saturday, Oct. 8.

The story of Paislee's Foundation began in 2012 when Jessica and Tyler Cripps, married for 17 months, were ecstatic to discover they were going to be parents. But the stillborn arrival of their daughter, Paislee Cheyanne, on May 3, 2013, sent them reeling.

Immediately, support poured in from their families, church and community, which provided vital comfort and care as they went through the following hours, days and months of grief.

Later that year, the grateful couple decided to find a way to pay it back and created Paislee's Foundation as a means to assist other families in paying for the burials of infants and children up to three years of age.

Over the past three years, Paislee's Foundation has raised roughly $10,000 and helped more than 30 families in three states as well as residents of Lebanon, Carthage, Smithville, Sparta, Woodbury and Cookeville.

"Our mission is to support those whose lives are touched tragically within the past six months due to stillbirth, infant loss or child loss up to three years old by providing funds to assist with unexpected funeral costs. It is our hope and prayer to help with the healing process," the couple explains on their website.

"We have the philosophy that once we give them the money, they can use it how they need," Jessica said. "That might be for funeral expenses, flowers, medical expenses, groceries or light and water bills."

To raise funds for the charity, the third annual Paislee's Foundation Craft & Home Show will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Oct. 8 inside the Kenneth Sandlin center at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria. Admission and parking will be free.

The show will feature more than three dozen booths offering many handmade creations, such as jewelry, soaps and lotions, jams and jellies, specialty butters, clothes, reclaimed wood, furniture, baked goods and Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas items.

Jessica, who grew up in Smithville, works in Alexandria City Hall as a water and court clerk. Tyler, raised in Alexandria, is a tow-motor driver for Custom Packaging in Lebanon.

"We got married in May 2011 and found out we were expecting Paislee in October 2012. I had been going to the doctor, and my blood pressure had been going up a bit. Over the weekend, I felt like she wasn't moving as much as she should so I went to the doctor on Monday," Jessica recalled. "They did an ultrasound, and everything looked fine, but I came back on Thursday, and they told us she was gone. The unthinkable happened. Our daughter, Paislee Cheyanne, arrived stillborn on May 3, 2013. We were completely broken and shocked. We had no idea that anything was wrong so we were completely unprepared to deal with this situation."

When they arrived home, the couple found a house full of groceries and everything they needed. People came to help, and their church set up a special donation to pay doctor bills because Jessica was out of work.

"As time went on and things got easier, I went back to work," she said. "Tyler and I started talking about how we were fortunate to have so many people taking care of us. We thought there probably were other people going through the same experience we did but who didn't have that support. A person changes after losing a child. The loss is such a pain that no one can describe it and is understood only by those who have suffered the same fate.

"Tyler had the idea of 'what if we had a 5K run and donated the funds to a family going through what we did. So he talked to his buddy at work, Wesley McCubbin, who had helped with non-profits before. So we held a fund-raiser the following January, a chili supper and corn hole tournament, and it has grown from there. We hold three events a year: the chili supper, a 5K run and the craft fair."

Tyler's mom, Darcie Cripps, coordinates the annual craft and home show and says the event has "exploded" this year, growing by nearly a dozen booths.

"Through our heartbreak and grief," Jessica concluded, "we still know that God is good. While we know the rest of our lives a piece of our heart is in heaven watching over us, we also know that after every storm it is promised a rainbow of hope. In 2015, we were blessed with our rainbow baby, Josee Irene."

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Alexandria, burial, children, community, fund-raiser, funeral, Paislee's Foundation
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