Jane Lukasina, left, and Mary Fran Williamson are two members of St. Matt’s Baby Hats, a group at St. Matthew the Evangelist’s Parish that has worked on creating baby hats for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Bergan Mercy Hospital for almost three years. The group collects hats throughout the year, and surpassed 400 homemade knitted or crocheted hats in 2019.

A group’s love and experience with crocheting and knitting has developed into a charitable gesture.

St. Matt’s Baby Hats at St. Matthew the Evangelist parish has created hats for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center — Bergan Mercy for almost three years.

In 2019, the group donated 441 knitted or crocheted hats for babies in the NICU, beating 2018’s number by more than 200.

Mary Fran Williamson, the group’s founder, said she started the group in 2017 because of her interest in creating hats in her free time.

Williamson, upon showing Bergan Mercy’s NICU director the baby hats, began recruiting people to start making around 30 to 40 hats each month.

Jane Lukasina, a group member, said she can create multiple hats in a night.

“I do them when I’m sitting and watching TV — I have to be doing something, so I like to have it and do it,” she said. “I find it very relaxing. Sometimes I do two in a night if I’m watching TV.”

Depending on the complexity of a hat, Williamson said she can create them within a few hours.

Though the group increased the number made in 2019, Williamson said she just wants St. Matt’s Baby Hats to continue to be involved.

“We don’t have a goal — we just knit or crochet,” she said.

“As long as we have the talent and the time, it’s useful.”

When there are about 40 hats collected at any given time, Williamson takes them to Bergan Mercy to distribute to NICU babies.

Though there are nine consistent members who make hats, Lukasina said there are many people who participate in the hat-making, which they find out about through the parish’s bulletin posted each month.

Williamson said the group receives donated hats every month — in January, the group collected more than 60.

The group also creates seasonal hats. For instance, closer to spring, members make pastel-colored hats, and in October the group has created pumpkin hats.

Those who don’t know how to knit or crochet but want to contribute can donate yarn to the donation bin at St. Matthew’s school, 12210 S 36th St.

“We can always use yarn,” Williamson said. “They don’t have to be members of St. Matthew’s to do the hats — they can drop them off if they have the talent to knit or crochet.”

The type of yarn the group prefers is baby yarn with a weight of three, or a worsted (higher quality, thinner yarn) weight of four.

“It’s going on a little baby’s head, so it needs to be soft,” Williamson said.

Lukasina said she’s excited by the number of hats made and received in 2019.

“We never set a goal, we just did almost twice as many last year than 2018,” she said. “I just like doing it. When I start a hat, I try to pray for whoever’s going to wear it. I just keep them in our thoughts and prayers as I do it.”

Correction: St. Matthew's address was printed incorrectly in the Feb. 12 issue of the Bellevue Leader. St. Matthew the Evangelist School's correct address is 12210 S 36th St.

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