Charity Guild knits their way across Northern Michigan hospitals

BENZONIA — A knitting guild working out of the Crystal Cafe in Benzonia is fulfilling the clothing needs of neonatal intensive care units in hospitals across Northern Michigan.

Recipients include Munson Hospital in Traverse City, DeVos Hospital in Grand Rapids and St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. These three hospitals are the only ones in the Northern Lower Peninsula with NICUs, and service the entirety of the surrounding areas, leaving them frequently in need of donations.

The guild is led by Ashley Taillard, who was deeply touched by her own experience when the March of Dimes provided their premature twin boys with clothing specially-designed in preemie sizes during a time when her family was struggling to cope with the circumstances. Wanting to provide the same help to others, she began her mission of making hand-knit clothing for other premature babies, and it didn’t take long for others in the community to become inspired to join her.

Some members of the guild have been long-time knitters, and others even learned to knit exclusively so they could join, and all of them have shown a passion for doing what they can for new families facing sad and uncertain times.

Taillard wants to highlight the fact that the low availability of NICUs in Northern Michigan puts the lives of newborns at risk as many people and hospitals can be more than an hour away from the nearest facility with the necessary resources. For those who are able to make the long drive, the few hospitals available can become overburdened relying on people like Taillard to organize people to contribute valuable items such as appropriately-sized warm clothing.

The guild meets at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday at the Crystal Café at 1681 Benzie Highway, Benzonia. Children’s activities are available during this time so that parents don’t need to find childcare. Knitters can bring their own knitting supplies, or purchase a starter kit available from Crystal Café. Free lessons will be offered for those who do not already know how to knit.

 

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