Before February rolled around, women from the First United Methodist Church of Orlando, through their Needle Arts Group, were knitting and crocheting tiny red caps for newborns at a local hospital.
It was part of a campaign by the American Heart Association called Little Hats, Big Hearts.
The women were raising awareness about congenital heart disease and also doing what Christians are commanded to do through Biblical teachings—helping and serving others.
“We do feel that one of our messages is to serve others and to love others and to serve God,” said Linda Palmer, who heads to Needle Arts Group. “By doing this and other different projects, we feel like we are serving others and reaching out in love.”
Luke 6:38 states it plainly: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
About eight regulars participated in making 44 hats for newborns at AdventHealth, formerly called Florida Hospital.
Most got red caps, while some got traditional blue or pink.
One woman in the group is 92 years old and the most active knitter in the group. Palmer said she knits caps year-round.
Volunteers from around the country joined in making the red caps for babies born in February at participating hospitals.
Little Hats, Big Hearts started in Chicago in 2014. It went from 300 little hats in the first year to hundreds of thousands today.
Palmer said her group found out about it through a couple of members who were eager to help. Others in the church also stepped up to knit and crochet the caps.
“Even though our Needle Arts Group has only been organized for two years, several friends who knit or crochet shared their patterns so we could make the hats for the hospital long before this project came along,” Palmer said. “This was just a new way to help.
“We heard AdventHealth wanted red hats to impress upon parents of new babies to have a heart-healthy upbringing. The red hat was supposed to be a reminder of that,” she said.
The Needle Arts Group meets each Friday. They work on the baby hats or pick up other projects, such as prayer shawls.
“I am trying to get the members interested in making the mats for the homeless,” Palmer said.
The mats are made from grocery bags that are cut apart to make plastic yarn. United Methodist Women in the Midwest started making the mats, and the project has spread across the country.
“They are wonderful because they dry easily, the bugs don’t get in them, and you can rinse them off,” Palmer said.
It keeps the homeless from sleeping on the ground.
“I am working on that, and several people are making the yarn for us, already,” Palmer said. “I haven’t pushed the project hard, yet, but I will.”
—Yvette C. Hammett is a freelance writer from Valrico.