Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies (about 3% of all babies) born in the United States each
Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning,
language, or behavior areas. About one in six children in the U.S. have one or more
developmental disabilities or other developmental delays.
Developmental disabilities occur among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Recent
estimates in the United States show that about one in six, or about 17%, of children aged 3
through 17 years have one or more developmental disabilities, such as:
Every person is made in the Image of God with inerrant value, dignity and worth. (Genesis 1:27)
Babies/Children are a gift from God. (Psalms 127:3)
Oftentimes, when we encounter challenging times, we ask existential questions, “Where is God?
How could this happen to me?” We are looking for spiritual answers.
Families have the right to be engaged and actively participate on communities of faith.
A relationship Christ Jesus, exercising one faith and spirituality are often sources of comfort,
resilience, and give hope.
Individuals with disability live and grow in the environment of family and communities.
Disability/special health needs affects family dynamics.
Families affected by special health needs/ disabilities experience unique challenges that are not
experiences by non-special health needs/ disabled families.
Families are stronger with support, resources and connections.
Oftentimes, resources are solely for the individual impacted by special health needs, however,
we take a person in the environment/ family approach.
Families affected by special health needs/ disability can struggle with
isolation, anxiety, worry, sadness and being overwhelmed.
Families can experience lack of connectivity and social supports.
Caregivers can feel increased stress and burden
Specially Wrapped Gifts was founded by Shemeka Jackson, in 2010. The idea being “Children are a gift
from God. Mine came specially wrapped.” Born out of necessity when Bruce and Shemeka’s youngest
daughter was born with Down Syndrome. They found their Christian faith in Jesus Christ to be the
anchor during this uncertain time. The truths found in the Bible calmed their quaking hearts. Scriptures
served as reminders that Candace was formed perfectly in her mother’s womb and God had a perfect
plan for her. Bruce and Shemeka had a history of working in social service and found an abundance of
resources addressing both the practical and emotional side of disabilities. However, limited support
that address the spiritual side. Specially Wrapped Gifts would be an outreach that address these three-
Our first endeavor was to have a luncheon in inner city Knoxville. We specifically, wanted to host it in
the inner city because of the lack of resources in minority and low-income communities. We wanted to
connect and meet other families raising children with special health needs and let them know that they
were not alone. The following summer we hosted a picnic in Inner-City Knoxville as another way to
build bridges and strengthen relationships. Volunteers, friends and family believed in our vision and we
were able to sponsor both events free to the participants.
Shortly, after we began to host a monthly Encouragement Group, in Oak Ridge, TN for parents raising
children with special health needs. This was a safe space for us to be vulnerable, connect and share our
unique experiences of being parents of children with disability. Additionally, as funds would allow, we
would assist families that had to travel for medical procedures by providing gift cards and meals.
During the holidays we would host a family Christmas dinner, gifts and all, again through the generous
donations of family, friends and our local church The House of Worship. The ministry continued to grow
but Shemeka felt the need to return to school and earn her master’s degree in social work, to be better
equipped to address the needs of families affected by disability.
In June 2014, Specially Wrapped Gifts Ministries obtained it 501(c ) (3) tax-exempt designation,
registered in the State of Tennessee.
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