Gabe Foster loves to knit and do good deeds. That’s why the 10-year-old jumped at the chance to make red caps for newborns to help raise awareness about congenital heart disease.
Last year, the fifth-grader from Fairport, New York, only had time to make one hat. But this year, he plans to knit four or five hats for Little Hats, Big Hearts, a program from the American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation that promotes awareness of heart disease and congenital heart defects.
Since the program started in 2014, more than 90,000 hats have been distributed to families in hospitals in 42 states. The hats are collected year-round and distributed throughout the year to babies with and without heart defects. Most AHA field offices deliver them to hospitals during American Heart Month in February and American Stroke Month in May.
“It’s a win-win,” said Gabe of making the tiny hats. “For knitters, they love to knit and it helps babies that have heart disease. It just makes everyone feel warm inside.”
Gabe’s contribution is especially meaningful because heart disease runs in his family. Both of his grandfathers have heart problems, and a couple relatives died of heart attacks.
The idea for Little Hats, Big Hearts came from Anne Schullo, a community engagement coordinator at the AHA’s Midwest Affiliate.
“It really starts a conversation,” said Schullo. “What is heart disease? Why are we receiving this red hat?”
Hats have come from as far away as Australia and Germany, she said.