By Pat Phalen
Executive Vice President
Good things come in small packages, and that’s especially true of newborns. Tiny hands. Tiny feet.
Those hands and feet work with the help of a beating heart. Thankfully, most of us start life with a strong one. Yet as we age, that heart can go from healthy to diseased. To remind parents that heart health should begin on the day we’re born, the American Heart Association likes to provide red, knitted hats to newborns through a campaign dubbed, “Little Hats, Big Hearts.” INB sponsored the program in the Springfield area last year, and we are expanding the program’s reach this year by serving as the sponsor throughout Central Illinois.
Our goal is to provide the association with enough hats to distribute to local hospitals in Springfield, Decatur, Bloomington, Peoria and Champaign. Last year, our goal was 2,400 hats in the Springfield area. We exceeded the goal, and the association was able to provide the extra hats in communities that didn’t have a program sponsor. By sponsoring an expanded area, we anticipate hats for each new baby born in Central Illinois after Feb. 1, 2019.
INB’s enthusiasm for expanding the reach of the program stems from the enthusiasm of the community and our employees.
Customers came to knitting events to learn about the program, then produced thousands of amazing hats. Likewise, our employees really took on the challenge of learning to make hats and, some, even challenging one another as to who could make the most. Employee Vicki Wall, and her mother, Cheryl Womack, stepped up and taught people how to knit or crochet and even shared their tricks of the trade. For those of us who don’t knit or crochet, there were looms. Making hats was simply something everyone seemed to embrace.
To provide volunteers with yarn, INB will sponsor a number of shred events this fall. While the service is free, we will accept cash donations on behalf of Little Hats. We’ll use the money we collect to buy yarn available to anyone who wants to participate.
If you want to get started making hats, you’ll find patterns on the Heart Association’s website. Make the hats, and drop them off at INB by January 18. We need time to have each hat washed to hospital specifications and packaged before delivery to the hospitals.
We’ll start distributing yarn and collecting completed hats Oct. 1 at any INB location.