Strangers stood near seven little, flower-covered graves as they honored the lives of infants whose bodies were never claimed.
Through the “Garden of Innocence,” founded by Elisa Davey, the children will no longer go unnamed and can go into the ground knowing they were cared about.
Davey makes it her mission to give names and proper burials to deceased babies abandoned in morgues and hospitals.
On this particular Saturday in the “Garden of Innocence” in Ventura, California, babies Ariel, Daisy, Don, Emily, Grace, John V. and Maguerite are being put to rest, each with a back story of their own.
Baby Ariel was reportedly found preserved in a jar marked "plant materials" in one of the labs at Moorpark College, according to the organization, but no one knew where the 1-year-old was born or whom she belonged to.
After a nine-month investigation, it never became clear why she ended up there, according to Davey.
But Davey said they waited on baby Ariel during the nine months and Saturday was finally her time for her funeral.
“It was bittersweet knowing we are going to lay to rest a child who was found in a jar,” said Davey. “A lot of people ask us how we can bury babies. ‘It’s so hard.’ Our answer is, 'how can we not?'"
Another baby girl had a story that was extra special, not just for Davey, but for the wood maker who produced her urn.
“We give the people who make urns the opportunity to name the baby,” said Davey. “This experience brought closure for him.”
He named her Daisy.
According to Davey, the man had a baby with his girlfriend at a young age and the doctor told them they should get an abortion, which they did.
When they asked the doctor about a burial for their baby, he discarded their idea, the man told Davey.
In a letter to Davey, the wood maker said it was a therapeutic experience for him to be able to give Daisy a funeral.
“It’s not about just burying people,” said Davey. “It’s also about helping people find closure.
Davey has 11 “Gardens of Innocence” throughout California and is planning to continue to expand.
It all began for her in 1998 when she saw a baby on the news whose body was dumped in a college campus trash can — a story she couldn’t forget.
So Davey called the county coroner and asked what she could do to claim the body of the baby who wasn’t hers, to which the coroner responded, "show me you have a dignified place to put him.”
That’s what she did, and almost two decades later, she is still doing her best to allow the youngest spirits to rest.