Yvonne Kalahar sews a Christmas Stocking for a baby born in December at the Family Birthplace. - photo submitted
McKenna, the newborn daughter of Jolene and Greg Parks of Brainerd, models the festive stocking.- photo submitted
Volunteers Sew Stockings for Newborns: A Christmas Tradition at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center
Web posted December 17, 2013
A colorful Christmas tradition has endured at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Babies born in December are being presented to their parents in Christmas stockings.
The tradition started more than 40 years ago with the hospital’s Benedictine Sisters. Over the years, local families cherished the memento of their special holiday delivery.
Stockings are now sewn by four volunteers from Fort Ripley: Yvonne Kalahar, Sharon Moran, Char Welle, and Norma Bjornson. When Yvonne was recruited for the project last year, she turned to three neighbors who share her love of sewing and quilting.
“They asked if I’d make 50 Christmas Stockings for babies and I said, Oh sure. I’d be happy to”, Yvonne says with a laugh. “And then I thought, oh my gosh! What have I gotten myself into?”
Since the four women get together regularly to work on projects, they simply set aside time to cut and sew the stockings. The St. Joseph’s Auxiliary purchases the red polar fleece; and the white embroidered cuffs are made by Shellie Cibuzar, a dietitian at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Last year, the volunteers created 60 stockings, this year they’ve made another 50.
“Families just love the stockings”, says Jeanette Ruff, director of the Family Birthplace at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center. “They take lots of photos”.
Jeanette says families often recall when earlier generations were part of the hospital’s tradition. Staff also enjoys being part of the Sisters’ legacy.
The generosity of the Fort Ripley “elves”, Shellie and the Auxiliary ensures babies go home with stockings, Jeanette says.
Find a Volunteer Opportunity that Fits You
You can find a volunteer opportunity that fits you at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center and its clinics in the Brainerd Lakes area. Matching your talents to a task that you’ll find rewarding is Deb Anderson’s goal. As Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center and Clinics volunteer coordinator, she’ll discuss ways that you can help at the hospital, a clinic or even from your home.
“We have all kinds of volunteer opportunities, some working with patients and some working in offices. We can even accommodate if you want to stay in your own home”, Deb says. “We’re flexible in scheduling.”
The hospital seeks both adult and teen volunteers to escort patients, deliver mail or flowers, offer manicures, play cards, or just spend time visiting with them.
Last year, more than 230 volunteers gave 22,000 service hours. To talk about volunteer opportunities, call Deb at (218) 828-7610.
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