TAMPA, Fla. — A welcome to the world message at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital comes in a tiny, handmade gift. Nurses welcome the community to help them continue meeting their goal of making handmade hats for newborns through Paula's Project.
“We do that just to keep her memory alive, and our patients, they love them,” said Jennifer McCutcheon, a registered nurse.
The St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital labor and delivery team celebrate each new life by knitting and crocheting newborn hats through Paula’s Project.
“We used to have a nurse that worked here named Paula. She would crochet hats for our newborns. Her goal was to have a hat for every newborn,” said McCutcheon. “Back in September of 2016, she passed away suddenly.”
The team has worked to meet her goal in many ways. Nurses learned how to crochet and knit, and the team even gets donations from people in the community.
From sports teams to Gasparilla and every holiday, there are handmade hats for every occasion.
“Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, July 4th, all the holidays,” said Becky Allen, a registered nurse. “We have over 4,500 deliveries a year, between 20, 25 deliveries a day. So yeah, thousands.”
With hundreds of deliveries a year, the team in labor and delivery welcomes the community’s help by donating new handmade hats.
“When COVID hit, we shut it down. We stopped accepting donations. We stopped doing the program completely, really,” said McCutcheon. “Now that things are settling in the community some and we have a process in place for the hats, we’re starting it back up, but we’ve seen that we don’t have the same amount that are coming in that we had before.”
If you want to help Paula’s Project, you can drop off new hat donations to the info desk of St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in care of labor and delivery/Paula’s Project. If you want to help but don’t know how to knit or crochet, you can also make a monetary donation online.
It’s all a community effort to make a life-changing moment even more special for families and continue honoring one nurse’s memory.
“She would very much be very happy with what we’re doing here for her,” said Allen.
The team welcomes creative ideas for hats, but you can find a sample template here.