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Volunteer sewing group creates special gifts for Christmas week babies

Sewing 101 volunteers

On a recent Wednesday at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph in Wichita, 13 of Santa’s elves are assembling hand-crafted gifts intended for some special recipients.

The ladies in this Sewing 101 group are members of Via Christi Volunteers, Partners in Caring, a department of Ascension Via Christi Philanthropy. They meet monthly at St. Joseph to create a variety of unique items for the comfort of patients in Via Christi’s Wichita hospitals.

Some of their ongoing projects include: crocheted and knitted hats to keep patients warm during chemotherapy treatments; fleece pillows, plush animals and toys for pediatric patients; walker bags for patients going through physical rehabilitation and for patients in the senior behavioral health unit.

For this year’s holiday project, the volunteers are making soft pouches resembling wrapped gifts, to be given to every mother and baby in St. Joseph’s NewLife Center during the week of Christmas. Each little pouch is made of fleece fabric in red, green, white or baby blue. Fancy bows and ribbons are hand-stitched onto the front, a Sewing 101 label is placed inside, and a coordinating cap and gift tag completes the set.

They are making 75 gift pouches for newborns and 14 that are preemie-size for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“I can imagine a new mother holding her infant which is placed inside the case — her ‘Christmas gift,’” says Linda Garrison, the group’s leader.

Linda discovered the idea online from a television news story about a Kansas City hospital’s NICU. She refined and enhanced the design and presented it to the Sewing 101 group for their Christmas project.

“We wanted to do something different this year, something special for moms and babies,” Linda says. “It’s a nice, feel-good thing.”

About three-fourths of the group’s 34 members are former Via Christi associates, Linda says.

“I can’t even sew and they let me come,” jokes Paula Ghazarian, as she adds strings to paper gift tags.

Carolyn O’Keefe, a retired nurse who served in the surgery recovery department at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, has been a Sewing 101 member for about three years.

“I needed something to keep my hands busy and I like to sew,” she says. “These presents are really cute and just so sweet. You just feel like you’re making somebody’s life a little bit better.”

For more information on the Sewing 101 group from Via Christi Volunteers, Partners in Caring, email Linda Garrison at or call 316-733-5908.

About Melissa Lacey

Kansas born; mother of two; communications professional for Ascension Via Christi.