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Tender loving care 

Gifts from the heart

Every December, babies born at Community Hospital go home tucked into a handmade Christmas stocking, courtesy of Auxiliary volunteers. Auxiliary Gifts

The stockings, of red felt topped in white fleece, are one of several traditions carried out in the Family Birth Center by volunteers who want to welcome new babies or comfort families who have lost a child.

The Auxiliary crafts 150 stockings every year, finishing by the end of October.

"Our earliest records of this tradition," says member Charlotte Houde, "are in 1976. The goal then was 40 stockings, made out of flannel. In 1985, we switched to felt because it is sturdier and we now make more than three times that many stockings. We have the Community Hospital logo embroidered on each stocking in gold, and we attach a green cord bow with a little bell just below the logo. Inside, it says, ‘Made for you by the Auxiliary,' just so families will know we care."

The Monterey Peninsula Quilters Guild creates year-round comfort for babies born prematurely at Community Hospital, making miniature quilts that tuck snugly into the incubators in the neonatal unit.

"Quilters are famous for giving quilts away," says Terann Carr, who has been involved in the guild for more than six years. "It's part of the culture to make quilts for others. We encourage people to give, especially for these babies. It's a pretty scary time if you have a new baby in the neonatal unit. A little quilt is a touch of humanity surrounding them. The guild enjoys doing that for others and sharing the comfort a quilt brings."

Another local fabric arts association carries on the time-honored tradition of hand-smocking, most often used to create fine linens and apparel for infants because it is so pretty and delicate. Glory Condon learned how to smock 15 years ago, when her first grandchild was born.

Four years ago, Condon, a member of the Smocking Arts Guild of America, established a local chapter, the Sea Otter Cablers. It has four other members, Suzie Campbell, Lynn Carr, Stephanie Culbert, and Eileen Rosa, and is looking for more. The five women provide hand-smocked bonnets, blankets, gowns, and memory envelopes to the Family Birth Center for infants who do not survive.