The local group serves families who experience the death of a child, whether through stillbirth, miscarriage, neonatal or infant loss.
In additional to offering emotional support through group meetings and special events, H.A.L.O. supplies several area hospitals with memory boxes to provide to grieving parents.
Woods and her husband, Matt, lost their first child in 2009.
Woods was 28 weeks into her pregnancy and vacationing at the beach when she realized that she could no longer feel the baby moving.
The couple quickly returned to Birmingham, where Woods gave birth to their son, Jaxon.
“The hardest part is when you leave the hospital because you have nothing,” she said. “You have no memories to share with anybody. Most people never get to see your child. A lot of people are hesitant to even talk to you about it because they’re uncomfortable or don’t know what to say.”
As Woods moved through the healing process, Jaxon’s memory box was a source of comfort to her.
She founded H.A.L.O in 2011 after learning that there was no local support group for families who have lost a child.
“I find that when you’re upset and are trying to get over things, if you can get busy doing something to help others, it takes away some of that time that you could spend being sad and feeling sorry for yourself,” Woods told the students.
H.A.L.O. holds meetings the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Walker County Schools Health Services Building on Viking Drive.
Last year, the group also sponsored a special Mother’s Day banquet and recognized Worldwide Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in October with a candlelight ceremony.
H.A.L.O. raises funds through the sale of T-shirts and cookbooks and uses the proceeds for the memory boxes.
The boxes are distributed through Walker Baptist Medical Center, Princeton Baptist Medical Center and St. Vincent’s Health System.
Each contains an infant gown and hat, blanket, handprint mold, ink pad, literature, disposable camera, teddy bear and keepsake items.
A Certificate of Life is also provided. Woods said if a child is stillborn, families do not receive a birth certificate or death certificate.
“The hospitals are filling these out, and the doctors will sign them so that these families have a record of their child,” Woods said.
The CHS Beta Club is currently selling cookbooks for $20 to benefit H.A.L.O.
Advisor Alisa Brown said the mission of H.A.L.O. touched her heart because one of her best friends suffered a miscarriage 10 years ago.
Brown noted that even though times have changed since even husband and wives did not discuss pregnancies, some topics still remain taboo.
“As women, sometimes we don’t talk about things that we ought to,” Brown said.
Woods advised that although conversations with a friend who has lost a child may be awkward, it is preferable to avoiding or ignoring the person.
“They’ve already had a loss. They need all the friends that they can get,” she said.