[if gte mso 9]>
COLUMBIA (WIS) - The Neonatal Intensive CareUnit at Palmetto Health Richland has acquired some new accessories thanks to a14 year-old Columbia girl.
Eleven months and more than 120 hours in themaking, 14 year-old Grace Smith made a special delivery to the hospital onWednesday with her mom. Making the delivery was unique in itself. Mostanyone under the age of 16 is prohibited from entering a NICU unit, but Gracecame bearing gifts.
“She's really done this all on her own,” saidGrace’s Mom, Nancy Smith. “She knew that she was getting this mass of hats sowe had to do something with them.”
Handmade, knitted baby hats of all colors anddesigns. “The internet has some creative ideas, and I just made some up,” saidGrace. The teen says she learned how to knit from her 8th gradescience teacher during a class charitable project. A year later, she hasn’tstopped.
She’s a passionate kid, and she really lovesto embrace something like this,” said Nancy.
Grace says each hat takes about 2 hours toknit and sew, and she’s donating all 61 hats she’s made to the NICU throughFamily Connections.
“The way Family Connections works, they comealongside families that are in crisis, and it was a perfect way for them toshare a hat as an introduction,” said Nancy. “So, we love that idea.”
“It’s just fantastic,” said KimberlyShoulders of Family Connections. Shoulders works once a week at the hospitalwith parents of NICU patients. “It's a great opportunity to give them somethingtangible and make that connection, and let them know that we care about them,”she said. “We want to do what we can to make this experience a little bit lessstressful.”
When Grace dropped off her donation, she evengot to watch the first hat be placed on a tiny little girl. “It makes me reallyhappy to know that we can make them happy,” said Grace.
That happiness is shared by the nurses whosee these little miracles every day. “To have this hat and to have thisconnection and to know that a young girl felt like it was important to makethem for the babies up here, it really is special,” said Celena Bearden, theNICU Nurse Manager at Palmetto Health.