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Crocheted outfits bring tears of joy to Misericordia's neonatal intensive care unit

All 17 tiny ones in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit were dressed in Whoville-themed four-piece sets in time for visits by their parents during the days leading up to Dec. 25.

An abundance of crocheted outfits made it a Christmas to cherish for the parents of babies it the Misericordia Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) this holiday season.

All 17 tiny ones in the NICU were dressed in Whoville-themed four-piece sets in time for visits by their parents during the days leading up to Dec. 25.

The reaction was overwhelming, said one of the nurses involved in the heart-warming project.

"I had a parent tell me with tears in their eyes and choking up what it meant to see their little fella in the adorable outfit Christmas Day," Shelley Cox, an RN, stated.

In a posted thank-you to the NICU Crocheters Facebook group, Cox wrote, "They were of course so hoping to have him home for Christmas, but when they arrived and saw him they knew he was loved here too and that the spirit of Christmas had found him."

Project organizer RN Sharon MacKenzie said the smiles from the surprised parents "made it feel like Christmas here.”

"With all the sad COVID news, it is so nice to be part of something like this," she said. "One parent assured us that the outfit is going to be part of their Christmas going forward."

Cox, along with fellow RN Lisa Wood and NNP (Neonatal Nurse Practitioner) Tara Follett, paid for and provided take-home gift bags for the families. Items included everything from a Christmas ornament to hand sanitizers to a Tims gift card. (Photographs of 13 babies were taken and have been provided to Great West Newspapers.)

MacKenzie said the response was overwhelming after the call went out in early December through the NICU Crocheters Facebook group looking for help.

"We now have enough outfits for two more years," said MacKenzie, adding, "It was better than we expected."

Most of the crocheters who stepped up to create the outfits had a connection to Misericordia's NICU.

MacKenzie said one mom who joined had given birth to twin girls in the NICU in 2018 and received Halloween outfits that year as part of an earlier crochet project at the Misericordia.

MacKenzie, who was inspired to start the crochet project after her son was born in the Grey Nuns NICU in 2014, has worked in the Misericordia NICU for three years. She started crocheting outfits for Christmas two years ago after seeing the success of the Halloween crochet project.

MacKenzie said while the extra Whoville-themed outfits from this season will be set aside for Misericordia's NICU, the Christmas 2021 crochet campaign will have a different theme and will benefit a different facility.

"It will involve another hospital that needs these outfits. We're not sure who yet," said MacKenzie, adding not all hospitals accept crochet-made clothing.

She did say the team of FB crocheters, which has grown from 50 to more than 300, is eager to keep helping.

"They are asking what they can do next. We already have people crocheting for Valentine's Day."

The NICU Crocheters can be reached on Facebook.

Gary Poignant is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Great West Newspapers. This story was funded by the Google News Initiative.  

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