PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. September 20, 2019 – Many people dread Mondays, but a group of ladies living at La Posada – a premier senior living community in Palm Beach Gardens – looks forward to Mondays, as this is the day they get together to knit and crochet hats and blankets for premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach. For years, the women have crocheted and knitted items for their families and friends. When they learned of the need for preemie items through Care Wear, they were eager to form a group and create items to donate to the organization’s cause. Care Wear is a nationwide group of volunteers who provide handmade baby items to hospitals. Volunteers knit, crochet, and sew primarily hats – though they also make kimonos, booties, blankets, teddy bears, bibs, burial gowns, finger puppets, incubator covers, mittens, mattress covers and cloth animals.
“It is heartwarming to see this group of residents dedicate their time and energy to such a good cause that benefits our local community,” said Rick Minichino, wellness director of La Posada. “Many of these women work on the preemie baby items from the comfort of their homes throughout the week as well. They come up with the different designs and patterns, and when they gather enough donations they take them to the hospital. Partnering with this nonprofit gives the residents a newfound vocational purpose and allows them to be part of something beyond themselves. They find this rewarding, and it contributes to their overall well-being.”
Care Wear began in 1991 as a personal effort to provide much-needed apparel for premature and low-birthweight infants undergoing treatment in the neonatal intensive care units of several children’s hospitals. Initial obstacles included the need to downsize patterns for infants as small as fifteen ounces, as well as the task of contacting each hospital regarding sizes and quantities of garments needed. The high demand for preemie-sized items eventually spurred efforts to begin recruiting others to join the effort. By December 1996, more than 28,000 items had been donated, and as of December 2004, Care Wear had grown to more than 2,400 active volunteers. As Care Wear grew, it became impossible for its founder to manage the distribution efforts. Now, volunteers are urged to deliver completed items directly to hospitals in their local community.
“We have generous residents living in our community who have really big hearts,” said Brad Cadiere, executive director of La Posada. “We hope that their efforts inspire others in the local community to give back. They are not only putting a smile on their own faces as they do this good deed, they are also putting smiles on the faces of the hospital employees who have a need fulfilled and smiles on the faces of the families whose infants are born premature.”