Every baby born at the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center leaves with a new blanket and hat that is handmade by volunteers. It's something the community wanted to do as a way to give to the areas newest and most vulnerable residents.
When Julie and Ron Enga from Marshall leave the hospital with their brand new bundle of joy Anthony Michael Enga, they'll also be walking out with a keepsake. The Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center's Auxiliary had a long standing tradition of making baby hats, but when Avera OB/GYN Dr. Donna Hartfiel came to town a few years back, she wanted to make sure those newborns also had a brand new matching fleece blanket to go with their hand-knit hat.
Dr. Donna Hartfiel says, "So I enlisted the help of the community. I like to knit and crochet and there is a beautiful shop downtown so we started a knitting marathon. With the help of the Auxiliary and the Foundation, we made a lot of blankets at the marathon. We still have "regulars" who make them."
Some of the crochet border work around the blanket can take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours so it really is a labor of love at the hands of a lot of volunteers who often get together at the Purple Iris Yarn Shop and Fabric Plus store in downtown Marshall.
Anthony's mom and dad appreciate the hat and blanket program because they said it feels like the whole community is wrapping him in great big warm hug.
New Mom Julie Enga says, "I believe it to be a wonderful program. It's done by volunteers that are so caring and loving. It's just special that you have a little extra gift to keep and remember the experience by. I am going to put his hat in his keepsake box."
It's not enough Dr. Hartfiel delivers the babies and helps bring them into the world, she also makes sure through donations and through her own knitting skills, to send them home wrapped in a gift from dozens of gifted people who love giving back to the community.
Every year about 500 babies are born at Avera Marshal and every one of them leaves with their own snuggly creation.