FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Five Fresno County children who died without families now have almost 100 siblings and a proper grave.
"I am sailing."
A song of love for five children who may have never experienced it.
This song and this big crowd came to honor children who died without names and with no families to claim them.
But on Saturday, they each found their identity.
"I named Earle for my grandfather," said ABC30's Corin Hoggard.
The Garden of Innocence gives the kids wooden urns, engraved with the names chosen by volunteers. And as they arrive at Mountain View Cemetery, every member of the crowd lays a hand on them.
"A wondrous joy, a dancing twirl. You lift us now, our precious Earle."
For this ceremony, I wrote a poem for the child I named and it struck a chord with Garden of Innocence founder, Elissa Davey, who came up from Southern California.
"The dignity of that name, to me, was wow I feel like my grandpa might be here too. Might be here with that baby," said Davey.
Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Ed Mayo graced another abandoned child with the name Ernest, and a heartfelt poem of his own.
"It was very meaningful. There's a personal meaning to this event for me. And I was honored to be able to do it and humbled by the experience," said Mayo.
He has played those bagpipes at every ceremony since the garden opened, paying tribute to each of the 97 children celebrated in five years.
In this case, Amazing Grace means Earle, and Ernest and Sergio, Natalie and Jace get graves covered in rose petals and an entire community as their family as opposed to the pauper's plot where they were otherwise destined.
"God can and will bring something beautiful out of this day," said Valley Children's Hospital Chaplain, Gilbert Barr-Dixon.
But gloom reversed, spirits elope. And back beyond the shining gate your blessings never need to wait.
Volunteers organize two Garden of Innocence ceremonies a year at Mountain View Cemetery - one in the fall and one in the spring.
If you want to donate or volunteer, the national organization's website is www.gardenofinnocence.org, and the local Garden of Innocence folks tell us you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garden of Innocence gives abandoned babies who have died an entire community as a family
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