The latest fall fashion trend has landed atop the sweet faces of Akron Children’s Hospital patients. Thanks to the efforts of one local woman and her desire to give back, 200 handmade hats were donated to the hospital just in time for cooler temperatures.
“When I retired, my husband and I started camping but, after a few years, I found myself getting bored and looking for something to do to keep my hands and mind busy,” said Cheryl James of Alliance, Ohio. “After seeing a news program about a girl making hats and donating them to area hospitals, I knew I found my outlet.”
The hardest part for Cheryl was learning how to make the hats.
“I don’t knit or crochet so I went on YouTube and taught myself how to use a loom to make the hats,” she said.
Because of Cheryl’s personal connection to Akron Children’s, deciding where to donate the hats was the easy part.
Cheryl’s grandson, Richard “Ritchie” Buffington, was born in 1993 and suffered complications at birth that resulted in a lack of oxygen to his brain. He was immediately taken to Akron Children’s NICU for care. His family stayed in the Ronald McDonald House and came to know many doctors and nurses during their time at the hospital.
“When our Ritchie finally got to come home, I remember how thankful we all were. It had been quite a journey,” Cheryl said. “Sadly, though, we lost him to pneumonia when he was just 6 years old.”
Today, Cheryl is a proud grandmother to more grandchildren and a supporter of the hospital’s work.
“I have a very special liking for Akron Children’s and the care they provide children,” she said. “If I can help brighten someone’s day with a small gift of a hat, I’m happy to do it.”
Although Cheryl has made many visits to Children’s over the years, it wasn’t until she delivered her hats that she got to stop by the volunteer office.
“When I walked through the doors, I was surprised to see so many volunteers – men and women of all ages,” Cheryl said. “They were all so kind and thankful for my donation. I thought to myself as I left, ‘Children’s never disappointments. No matter the capacity, I always walk away impressed.’”