It’s affectionately become known as the “hat tree,” and its branches have managed to positively impact the lives of both the donors and recipients of the headwear it so proudly displays.
“We go through 500 or more hats per year, and winter is our busiest time,” said Jodie Gossard, patient service representative for Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley.
The tree resides in the hematology-oncology waiting room at Akron Children’s Beeghly campus, and is constantly stocked with 30 or so handmade hats donated by individuals and community groups. Hats are given to patients and their siblings at no cost.
“They’re all unique and they always evoke smiles from the children who select one,” Jodie said. “They usually put them on right away after they pick one. Many families ask to pay for them, but our policy is if you need one, take one. It’s nice to see when a child who comes in without a hat on a cold day, and ends up leaving here wearing one.”
Hospital volunteers process the donated hats and re-stock the supply once or twice a week. The hats are given to cancer and blood disorder patients as well as rheumatology, gastroenterology and general surgery patients.
“I have always loved doing things for others, especially kids, so this was definitely something that spoke to me,” said Jessica Deeter, of Washingtonville, Ohio, whose Sweet Stitches organization, a local chapter of Crochet for Cancer, is one of the community groups that supplies hats to the hospital. “It’s just so nice to be able to give back to the community.”
If you’re interested in donating handmade hats to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley, contact Sue Heher, supervisor of volunteer services at our Beeghly campus, at 330-746-8350.