Posted: April 26, 2022
Each year thousands of babies must be sent home from the hospital with nothing more than a disposable diaper and small hospital blanket. But Easter and springtime are about celebrating new life, and the ladies at Holly Creek Life Plan Community are making sure that newborns in need are being wrapped — quite literally — in love.
Every week the Holly Creek art gallery is filled with the click of knitting needles, crochet hooks and the lively conversation of around 15 community residents. Together they laugh, eat cookies (there are always cookies), edge patterned material into blankets and craft essential baby items. The Holly Creek Needles and Threads group has created around 200 hand-edged blankets and 60 knit sweater, hat and bootie sets each year for nearly 10 years now. Never has it produced more than it is now, with nearly 80 items donated just last weekend.
All their handiwork goes to Arvada nonprofit Warm Hearts~Warm Babies (WHWB) to help around 60 hospitals, crisis pregnancy resource centers, shelters and other agencies across the Front Range welcome newborns in need. Earlier this month, organization volunteers came to Holly Creek to share their first-hand stories about how the items are bringing love and joy to many families. The charity folds the donated needlework and knitting into layettes, or newborn baby “starter kits,” which include blankets, a sweater/outfit, onesie, sleepwear, socks, hat, bottle and basic toiletries. The volunteers also provide hand-crafted clothing for babies who don’t survive or are miscarried.
WHWB was formed 22 years ago because of a woman who lost a baby. Glenda Bredeson, vice president of the organization’s board, explained that “our founder started making and donating baby booties to the hospital because it was cathartic, and the group formed from there.” Since 2000, the group has grown from sixty volunteers when incorporated to around 400 in twelve work groups (located from Loveland to Colorado Springs) including the one at Holly Creek.
“I finish four blankets each week,” shares Marvel Fisher, one of the most dedicated Holly Creek blanket-makers, adding that it takes around two hours for each one.
The ladies work together to make sure all the pieces of the program run fluidly, with everyone pitching in as they can. This week the group discussed adding crocheted octopuses to their list of items to try, after learning from WHWB President Sandi Powis about how they are used to help little ones in the ICU. Some ladies had the batting for the creature’s heads, others had the yarn and still others the crochet know-how.
“It’s the best addiction I can imagine,” said Bredeson, and those in Needles and Threads certainly agree. The Holly Creek group’s coordinator Priscilla Stenman has been on both sides of the equation, having been thrilled by the “little outfits when my children were born,” and now with the opportunity to help make them. “We love doing it,” she shared, and knowing where the outfits go makes it worth all the work.
“We sometimes get thank-you’s, mostly from the agencies,” Bredeson shared when she spoke with the Needles and Threads group, but sometimes there are pictures from moms, and then “it is so wonderful to see the babies wearing the things we made.” The stories are memorable ones as well. “We had a mother come and speak at a volunteer luncheon, and we all were in tears because she had lost her baby three weeks before that. She wanted to let us know how much what we made meant to her… she got one of our outfits with a little vest and bowtie on it. She said it didn’t make things ok, but it made them better.”
The pandemic didn’t slow down the need, and the only way that WHWB has been able to stay on top of demand is “our amazing volunteers,” Powis said. “We have been blessed again and again. We often don’t even have time to think about being short on something before we get it.” In her mind, the organization is as much for volunteers at Holly Creek and across the Front Range as it is for the babies.
“It’s important to know that you are needed, and you definitely are,” Powis shared with the group. “You can’t buy these things at Walmart – it’s that handmade touch,” – from a big-hearted group of neighbors at Holly Creek to mothers, fathers and babies across our state.
To find out more about Warm Hearts-Warm Babies please visit their website at warmheartswarmbabies.org.