Imagine getting a gift of 500 anything. It could be overwhelming. What would you do with 500 of anything?
The Memorial Hospital nursery knows.
When they received a gift of 500 baby hats, 500 newborns came to mind.
It seems that Colorado Springs resident and needle-worker extraordinaire Tina Herrera had a thing about making hats and donating them to Memorial — for a long time. She got started making them with others at the Colorado Springs Senior Center.
“She was very passionate about making and donating baby hats to Memorial Hospital, especially for preemies,” said her daughter, Genevieve Valdez of Denver.
“My Mom passed away March 22, 2015, exactly two months after her 80th birthday,” said Valdez in a letter explaining the donation. “Upon her passing, we discovered a box containing 45 baby hats.
“My Dad and I looked at each other and asked, ‘What do we do now?’ Dad said: ‘Looks like we donate 45 hats,’ and I said, ‘Or 500.’”
Somehow, that number struck a chord with them.
“We both thought this was a little crazy but decided to go for it,” Valdez said. “Having severe arthritis in my hands, this was a bold undertaking. Little did I know some great people would step up to help.”
Valdez’ father, Abe Herrera, also pitched in to make the hats, using a knitting loom.
“I made hats everywhere I went — in a waiting room, even in the car — I wasn’t driving of course,” Valdez said.
She said that as word got out among family and friends about what they were doing and why they were doing it, people started asking to learn to make the hats and volunteered to help.
“My daughter, Erica Valdez, was the first to join the effort, and friends of ours who had never met my mom were next,” Valdez said. “And so it went, my nieces and great nieces, sister and more friends came together to help accomplish this lofty goal.”
Some hats are sewn, using a soft T-shirt-type fabric, and some are knitted. Some have pompoms and some don’t “but all have lots of LOVE,” Valdez said in the note accompanying the hats.
Valdez set a deadline for finishing the hats and “not only had we met our goal of 500 hats, but exceeded it,” she said.
The note to Memorial concluded: “Please accept these hats in memory of my Mom, Tina Herrera.”
Though the gesture of kindness is appreciated and welcomed, the hats also help to keep the babies warm.
“Since humans lose a lot of heat through their heads, hats help to keep the warmth in their bodies,” said Bonnie Nixon, office supervisor for Volunteer Services at Memorial.
“Babies are used to being snuggled warmly inside the womb, and being born pushes them into the cold world. The warm hats help them feel a little like they are still snuggled safely in the womb,’’ Nixon said.