Knitting Group Gives the Gift of Warmth to Patients

“Maggie’s Loving Hearts” – Knitting Group Gives the Gift of Warmth and Care to Southcoast Patients

At Southcoast, kindness and care often go far beyond job description. This couldn’t be more evident than with Maggie’s Loving Hearts, a knitting group formed by Southcoast Occupational Therapist Leslie Shelton (formerly Leslie Baganha), Southcoast Patient Care Representative Alda Vieira, Leslie’s Aunt Tiana, and Alda’s daughter Kendra. The group is named in honor of Leslie’s mom, Margaret, who passed away last year. Family and friends called Leslie’s mom “Maggie” for short.

For many years, Leslie along with her mom and aunt knitted items that they would donate to nursing homes during the winter holiday season. They would get together once a month for coffee, sweets and knitting. Leslie began knitting under her mother’s tutelage at age five. “My first project had many holes!” she says.

Last year, Leslie decided to rekindle the knitting group after discovering lots of her mother’s yarn stored in totes. The group has been knitting lap blankets and shawls for Southcoast patients since then and presenting them under the name “Maggie’s Loving Hearts.”

They’ve knitted 10 shawls and more than 50 lap blankets

So far, they’ve knitted 10 shawls and more than 50 lap blankets, with another 10 to 15 finished and ready to be monogrammed with a red heart knitted into the corner. Each of the blankets is unique and made of varying colors. “When we get to 100 blankets, the four of us are planning on going out to celebrate,” Leslie says with delight.

Once completed, the knitted items are individually wrapped in plastic with a card that reads “Handmade with Love” and each of the women’s first names. Leslie says they have more yarn to turn into blankets and have even received donations of yarn from a few people. The group recently received six bags of yarn from a woman who can no longer knit because of arthritis. 

The blankets and shawls have been given to patients

The blankets and shawls have been given to patients in the St. Luke’s and Tobey Rehab units, the ICU, and elsewhere. Initially, during the pandemic, the blankets were especially meaningful to patients when they couldn’t have visitors. “We’re happy to give them to patients anywhere at Southcoast. They’re perfect for patients who are having a bad day or feel cold.”

“The best gift is seeing a patient smile when they have had such a rough path medically,” says Leslie. A patient recently diagnosed with cancer, said, “Thank you. You’ve made my day,” when she was presented with a blanket. Her husband later told Leslie receiving the blanket meant a great deal to his wife. “It was just what she needed.”

Alda, who also has been knitting since she was a child, says, “It’s a nice feeling to be part of the knitting group and to be able to give. I enjoy it. And I feel Maggie’s presence whenever we get together.”