Inspirational stories behind crafters of Little Hats, Big Hearts

Inspirational stories behind crafters of Little Hats, Big Hearts


Before the first flakes of snow fell on Thursday, a delivery of warm and cozy red hats was being dropped off at the Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island.


For months, our wonderful volunteers here in Southern New England have been knitting and crocheting a cute collection of tiny hats for the Little Hats, Big Hearts project.

 Little Hats, Big Hearts™, honors babies and moms in a very special way. These tiny red hats, on thousands of babies, symbolize our shared mission of heart-healthy lives for everyone. The effort also raises awareness of congenital heart defects, and what we can all do to help prevent them.


Dr. James Padbury is the Pediatrician-In-Chief at the Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. He helped coordinate the drop-off of the hats to be delivered to the NICU (Neonatal intensive care unit) at the hospital.


“The NICU is challenging for families,” said Dr. Padbury. “Anything that helps them feel more normal, more at home and more connected is welcome.”


Megan Oldham’s one-month-old daughter was recovering in the NICU when Dr. Padbury popped in with a special hat for baby Lillyana. Oldham, who is from Cranston and has two other children, said that Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island is special. “I have a wonderful nurse who is taking very good care of Lillyana,” she said.


For the hundreds of hats received here at our office at One State Street in Providence, there is a story behind each of them.

 Michelle Barrett and her son Owen dropped off a delivery of hats in October.

 Owen was diagnosed with Coarctation of the Aorta and sub aortic membrane issues at nine months old and underwent open heart surgery at Boston Children’s just after his first birthday.

 “I wanted to get involved to help raise awareness about congenital heart defects,” said Barrett. “Up until Owen’s diagnosis I never knew much about CHD myself,” she said. She reached out to family and friends who generously donated yarn and offered to make hats. “I plan is to learn to knit so I can personally make hats for next year’s collection,” Barrett said.

 Little Hats, Big Hearts™ started in Chicago in 2014. From just 300 little hats in the first year, the program has now embraced hundreds of thousands of babies, across more than 40 states.

The response to Little Hats, Big Hearts™ has been amazing. We received more than 200,000 hats for distribution in 2018.

These little hats will be distributed in February in celebration of American Heart Month.


Want to help now? You can still make an impact by making a donation . Or learn more about participating in a local Heart Walk.


We will be accepting donations of hats here at our Providence office until December 10, 2018. The address here is One State Street, Suite 200, Providence, RI 02908.


Before you drop hats off, please email Communications Director Jennifer Bray ([email protected]) to make arrangements for a drop-off time so someone can be at the office to accept them. You can also call her at 401-228-2324.


We’d love to get some video and photos of you and your group  taking part in Little Hats, Big Hearts and then post it to our social media pages. Please email again to [email protected] We can’t promise that everyone’s photos and videos will be published, but we will try to get as many posted as possible!


Quick FAQs for Little Hats, Big HeartsTM


1. I want to knit/crochet hats, how do I get started?

We ask that they be made with red medium or heavy weight acrylic or cotton yarn so that they can be machine washed and dried. Use your favorite pattern, or there are a few patterns available on our website at As for sizes, most are preemie or newborn, but since babies come in all sizes, we take them starting at micro-preemie and going up to larger sizes as well.

2. How many hats should I knit?

Please knit or crochet as many hats as you want to create. We are constantly expanding to more hospitals and need many, many hats to meet our need.

3. Can yarn other than red be used? How about hats made from other materials?

The yarn needs to be red (or red dominant if variegated) and either cotton or acrylic.

4. I’ve knitted some hats, where do I send my donation?

Please find your nearest office by visiting our website.

5. Why do I need to send my hats to that location? What if I want to deliver my hats personally?

We ask that all hats go through us so that they can be accounted for and so that we can make sure we meet the needs of all the hospitals that request hats throughout the state. We are constantly growing our program, so we need all the hats that we can get! Additionally, it is important that hats are sent to our staff so that they can be properly washed, packaged, and be paired with educational materials for the new parents.

6. I want my hats to go to my local hospital. Is that possible?

We work very hard to keep the hats donated from one area of the state in hospitals in that area. Occasionally, if you are in an area where we have a lot of knitters, some of your hats may end up at a hospital that has less knitters in their area. Also, some hospitals are not currently participating in the program—if your local hospital isn’t participating we will work hard to get your hats into the next closest hospital.

7. How do I donate money to the American Heart Association?

Please visit or text HAT to 41444.

8. What if my state or local office is not participating in the program?

Please find any participating office by visiting our website. Heart health knows no boundaries!

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