BEVERLY — Roughly 2,200 babies are born each year at Beverly Hospital, and each one goes home with a handmade cap.
The caps, along with sweaters, blankets and other items, are made and donated by a legion of volunteers, spread across the North Shore.
“Labor of love” is the perfect description of the process.
“It’s just a little donation of my time, to volunteer a bit,” said Lois Healey of Beverly, who has knit 1,200 baby caps in the last four years. “I’m happy to know that somebody is getting something out of what I’m doing. I’m delighted with that.”
In Beverly, a group of retired women — Knitters for Newborns — meet at the senior center once a week. The sound of conversation is accompanied by the click of knitting needles as the women turn piles of yarn into caps, scarfs, hats, mini-blankets and other items.
Some knit, some crochet — a craft most of them learned while they were in grade school.
They are quite an industrious group, making 1,200 caps in the span of a year, for babies born at Beverly and Salem hospitals. The other items, including lap blankets, scarfs and hats, go to hospice and charities for veterans, homeless and others.
Beverly Hospital also receives baby cap donations from a number of individuals who knit on their own and bring them in, said Jane Karaman, volunteer services manager for Northeast Hospitals. In addition to Knitters for Newborns, a group from Senior Care in Gloucester makes sweaters, hats, blankets and other items.
Karaman said she hears a constant stream of appreciative comments from newborn parents for such a personal, handmade item. Many of them become keepsakes and are tucked into baby books, she said.
“They appreciate it, I know they do,” Karaman said. “(I receive) many compliments on how wonderful it is to go home with a handmade item.”