The American Heart Association of St. Louis hosted a different kind of party Wednesday, a packing party. Volunteer after volunteer toted tubs and brought boxes and bags full of crocheted red caps for infants. After sorting and packing, the Little Hats Big Hearts program will deliver the hats to newborns and preemies at 17 participating hospitals in late January.

Supporters are knitting and crocheting red hats to be given out to thousands of babies during American Heart Month in order to empower moms to live heart-healthy lives and to help their children do the same. In St. Louis, the goal was for volunteers to crochet 3,000 hats but the American Heart Association wound up with nearly double that.

Connie Schmid of Creve Coeur, Missouri, recently learned about the program and donated a baker’s dozen.

“I crocheted 13 hats so far and I made them different sizes,” said Schmid. “I think this one is like a micro-preemie hat and then I made some there were regular preemie, newborn sizes, and like zero- to three-month sizes so they could fit a variety of babies in the NICU’s.”

Schmid shared her personal reason for getting involved in Little Hat Big Hearts. “My son Corey died at the age of 24 of a heart attack and he had a heart condition that we didn’t know anything about,” said Schmid. “He was perfectly healthy, was into sports, into working out.”

Family is also the reason Heather Norman of Waterloo, IL volunteered. Norman’s 12-year-old daughter Hailey was born with a congenital heart defect. Three surgeries later, Hailey is a hockey player with no heart-related health issues.

“We are one of the few families that have no restrictions,” said Norman. “She is on two medications but with her playing ice hockey there’s obviously no restrictions. She’s able to be a normal kid. She’s able to participate in pretty much any sport she wants to and so we’ve been extremely blessed with that.”

Both women say they want to spread awareness about heart disease and defects.

“Ever since she’s been born it’s been kind of our goal to spread awareness and this program is a huge way to do that,” said Norman.

For more information about Little Hats Big Hearts, click here.