In honor of National Heart Month, members of the Happy Stitchers group that meets weekly at the Campo Y recently donated red hats to Brandon Regional Hospital's Baby Suites.

It is early on a Monday morning and the ladies start to trickle into the conference room at the Campo Y. Each of them walk in wearing a smile, and after the welcomes from other group members, they begin stitching hats, blankets and other items, all while enjoying the camaraderie of those around them. The ladies belong to The Happy Stitchers and truly enjoy their craft and the company.

The ladies love to give back to the community. In July, they donated Lapghans to the Veteran’s Hospital. Lapghans are smaller than blankets and can be used by those in wheelchairs or for the elderly to help keep them warm. They also donate Lapghans annually to the Y’s Livestrong Program.

Recently, the group knitted more than 150 hats and donated them to Brandon Regional Hospital (BRH). The hospital partners with the American Heart Association to provide red knitted hats to all babies born during February. This is the second year that the Happy Stitchers participated.

Jill Lansky, Business Development Director in charge of the program at the hospital, said, “Thank you Campo YMCA Happy Stitchers for making and donating hand-knit hats for our newborn babies at the Brandon Regional Hospital Baby Suites.”

New members are always welcome to join. Debbie Wieder, who facilitates the informal group, said, “We tell you to bring your yarn and hook whether you are crocheting or knitting. There is always someone there to help you get started. We try to talk to everyone.”

Sandy DiBurro has been with the group for a year. She found herself alone and was looking for companionship so she decided to join.

“This group has become like a family to me. I’ve done a lot of sewing and alterations since I was a kid.”

Currently, there are 18 members that attend. You do need to be a member of the Y to belong to the group. Members currently range in ages from the 30s on up. All skill levels are welcome and the members are glad to help you get started. You only need to bring your favorite color yarn and the tools to crochet or knit.

A few of the ladies are bilingual and can help if Spanish is your first language.

The Happy Stitchers meet every Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Campo Family YMCA, 3414 Culbreath Rd. in Valrico. For more information, call Kavita Marbali at 684-1371 ext. 1606 or visit the welcome center.

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Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.