A hospital room can be a dauntingly sterile place for a seriously ill child. That’s why Anna Norris and a small team of volunteers have devoted the last six years to making colorful blankets and other items for pediatric patients at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children in Baltimore.
So far, the women have produced 1,388 blankets, 1,106 activity bags, 1,080 pillow cases and 2,194 baby hats. They’ve also crafted 714 “therapeutic dolls” that doctors use with youngster to explain in a nonthreatening way how they might undergo treatment.
“I’ve been so blessed in my life,” said Norris, a parishioner of St. Michael the Archangel in Overlea, “and I want to leave something behind for others. I want to know when I’m no longer here, there’s something there that has somehow touched a life in a positive way to make the world a better place.”
Norris first got the idea for the effort when she wanted to do something with the leftover yarn from a blanket project. There were initially three women in the group, which is now known as the “Tender Loving Care Circle.”
Today, 20 women ranging in age from 40 to 80 years old volunteer in the effort, crafting the projects in their homes.
The blankets become cherished keepsakes for families who suffer the death of an infant or young child. Children are often wrapped in the blankets so parents can hold their child one last time. The blankets also bring comfort to healthy children whose parents are undergoing treatment.
“Sometimes the children will even give the blanket to their mom or grandpop or whoever is ill,” Norris said. “It helps them to make that emotional connection.”
Norris noted that the Girl Scouts and other groups support the Tender Loving Care Circle. Most of the group members purchase the materials on their own, and there is also some financial support from a fund established in the memory of Norris’ father.
Asked what the biggest challenge has been working on the project, Norris said it’s knowing that there are sick children who need help.
“That’s the most difficult thing,” she said, “knowing that the need is growing, which means there are more sick children.”
Norris is a firm believer that there are no coincidences in life.
“I always say that God is directing our entire program,” she said.
Visit www.tenderlovingcarecircle.org or call 410-375-7706 for more information.