Local volunteers are putting their knitting needles to good use in joining with the American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation for the Little Hats, Big Hearts project. The program that dons newborns with knitted red caps raises awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country. All babies born at local participating hospitals during the month of February will receive a hat.
“I’m so excited to help raise awareness of congenital heart disease through the Little Hats, Big Hearts program in St. Louis,” said Heather Norman, Chair of the Go Red for Women Passion Committee and Little Hats, Big Hearts volunteer. “When my daughter was born 12 years ago with congenital heart disease, I was blindsided. I had never heard of the disease. My husband and I had to fast-track our learning. Now that my daughter is doing well, I can focus my passion on educating new moms on congenital heart disease and Little Hats, Big Hearts is the perfect way to do that. I am able to educate new moms and remind them to take care of their own heart.”
All year long the American Heart Association has been receiving hats in anticipation for the February delivery. “We have a goal of collecting and distributing about 3000 hats to about 15 local hospitals, said Jennifer Jaeger, American Heart Association St. Louis Executive Director. “I think part of the success of the program is that it’s driven by volunteers, and anyone can contribute. We have student and youth groups knitting as well as seniors. It is a true testament to the spirit of the giving nature of the St. Louis Community.”
“Little Hats, Big Hearts brings attention to congenital heart defects – a condition that affects about 40,000 babies born in the U.S. each year,” says William Foley, Executive Director of The Children’s Heart Foundation. “We’re proud to be part of this program as it brings together the community to rally around those families affected by CHD. We also would like to thank all the incredible volunteers that share their time and talent to make this program possible.”
Since its inception, the project has grown to include 660 hospitals in 40 states, handing out more than 100,000 hats. In addition to using red hats to raise awareness of heart disease and congenital heart defects, Little Hat, Big Hearts also drives awareness for the American Heart Association’s Support Network, an online forum for families affected by heart disease and stroke.
The American Heart Association accepts hats in newborn and preemie sizes made of red yarn, cotton or acrylic, medium to heavy weight, and machine washable and dryable. Donations of yarn are also accepted. Donations can be dropped off or mailed to the American Heart Association’s office at 460 N. Lindbergh, St. Louis, MO 63141.
For hat patterns and more information about the initiative, visit www.heart.org/LittleHatsBigHearts.
Written by and photo courtesy of American Heart Association®