Five years ago, Elizabeth Stewart decided that she wanted to do something to honor her daughter Charli’s memory. After much consideration, she decided to establish a hat drive to benefit the pediatric oncology patients and bone marrow transplant patients at UNC, where Charli was treated.
“Over the past five years, I have found that something as simple as giving someone a hat or scarf is like therapy for me,” says Stewart. “The most rewarding thing for me is knowing that this is something that Charli would have loved to have done herself.”
When she and her family made their first delivery to UNC, she had 964 hats and over the past five years, the Charli Ramsey Hat Drive has grown tremendously. This year, Stewart and her family had collected over 1,800 hats, scarves, blankets and pillow cases to donate to the N.C. Cancer Hospital.
Stewart attributes much of the success of the program to their friends and family members that have gotten involved with the drive. Due to the growth of the program, the items donated have been able to benefit multiple other areas within the hospital. This year, in addition to the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology clinic and the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Program, items were taken to the N.C. Children’s Hospital, General Oncology, the Burn Center, and the Rehab Center.
Kelly Kivette is the recreational therapist for the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Program, and she helps distribute the donated items each year. “We are so grateful for this family’s generous donation each year,” says Kivette. “I feel very fortunate to be able to see firsthand how these items benefit our patients. I had one lady tell me that it was like retail therapy in the hospital. They love being able to ‘shop’ for free!”
For more information about the Charli Ramsey Hat Drive and to see pictures from this year’s donation, please visit their Facebook page.