Since 2009, Elizabeth Stewart has honored the memory of her daughter Charli’ Ramsey with an annual hat drive for pediatric oncology patients and bone marrow transplant patients at UNC Lineberger. Charli’ was treated for leukemia at UNC before she passed away in 2001 at the age of nine. Over the years, the effort has expanded to include not just hats but pillowcases, blankets and scarves: all items that provide comfort and a measure of happiness to patients in treatment.
Last month, Stewart arrived at the N.C. Cancer Hospital with a crew of family and friends and over 2,700 hats, scarves, blankets and pillowcases. This is almost double the number of items collected last year. Due to Stewart’s continued dedication and the growth of the program, patients throughout UNC Hospitals benefit from the Hats for Hope Charli’ Ramsey Hat Drive. This year, in addition to the Pediatric Hematology and 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.
Stewart takes comfort in knowing that Charli’ would be proud of the program, and that her daughter’s memory continues to touch the lives of patients at the N.C. Cancer Hospital.
Phyllis Middleton, of Greensboro is one such example. Middleton received a hat from the hat drive in 2013 when she was a bone marrow transplant patient at UNC. Returning to the cancer hospital for her one year check-up last month, Middleton happened upon Stewart unloading the thousands of items being donated this year. She told Stewart, “I received one of your hats last year, and that is something I will never give away.”
Middleton, now in remission explains that patients don’t always know what they will need when they arrive at the hospital. She was able to choose a beautiful gray hat with a butterfly on it that she wore throughout her treatment. She says “It was so nice to know that somebody out there cared.”
For more information about the Hats for Hope Charli’ Ramsey Hat Drive and to see pictures from this year’s donation, please visit their Facebook page.