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UUs knit baby caps to save lives

Knitting group supplies caps to newborns in developing countries.
By Donald E. Skinner

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Knit caps for newborns

Members of the Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Goleta, Calif., knit these caps for newborns in developing countries. (Michael Wittman)

Wilma Seelye of the Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Goleta, Calif., and a group of friends armed with knitting needles are making a difference, one baby cap at a time.

Seelye read last spring that a simple knit cap could help save the lives of newborns in many developing nations. She learned that many babies die during the first month of life and that something as simple as a tiny knit cap could increase the chances of survival by preventing heat loss through the baby’s head.

Seelye, a retired mobility instructor for children who are blind, was already part of a social knitting group at church, the Hookers and Needlers, when she read the article from a group called Save the Children, which said that millions of babies die in the first month of life, many from hypothermia. “We learned about this and jumped on it,” said Seelye. “We had no idea that a little cap could make such a difference in a baby’s life.”

The group, which includes several men, had knitted more than a hundred caps by September. Seelye did 30 herself. They plan to knit until December, when the caps will be sent to Washington, D.C., where Save the Children will lobby for continued financial support from Congress. “We want the legislators to know there’s a whole constituency behind this,” said Seelye. “Hopefully they’ll be responsive to Save the Children.”

Each hat carries a note with the name of the person who made it and a message to the mothers, the babies, or the legislators. Seelye’s granddaughters, ages 7 and 9, also made hats. They wrote in their notes: “Everybody needs an education” and “I hope the babies get what they need like medicine and shots and mosquito nets and the parents get what they need.”

Seelye has also gotten other groups involved—a band for people over the age of 50 (she plays tenor sax), and a local humanist society. Several people from the community have also made hats. “Hats are just raining from the sky,” noted Seelye. “We will never see these babies, but what matters is that they’ll have a better chance at life.”

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