Handmade for the holidays Hospital volunteer sews Christmas stockings for newborns

When Charlotte Peterson came to Bonnie Walters seeking someone to try their hand at sewing the Christmas stockings for the new babies in the Centura Health – St. Catherine Hospital Maternal Child Department, Walters saw it as a twofold opportunity.

She was going to get the chance to continue a longstanding tradition, and also do something that she loves – seamstress work.

Peterson, executive assistant at Centura Health – Bob Wilson Memorial Hospital in Ulysses and volunteer coordinator for both hospitals, found the right person for the job.

“She said that she knew somebody that was here that would sew, so she asked me. So, I told her, ‘Yeah, I could do it.’” Walters, of Ulysses, said when recalling her conversation with Peterson. “She showed me one stocking, and then I went and made a pattern off of that and started making them.”

Scores of stockings later, and the Maternal Child Department at St. Catherine is once again up to its eyeballs in Christmas cheer.

“We’re all excited when December comes, just to see the moms’ faces when they smile and they see that big stocking. It’s homemade, it’s not bought, and it’s made out of care,” said Valerie Schuetz, Maternal Child Services assistant nurse manager.

St. Catherine has been sending the handmade stockings home with new parents and their babies during the holidays for many years, and Schuetz is glad the tradition is continuing.

“We also have another nurse who goes and gets the material for the volunteer, so she donates her money to do that,” Schuetz said. “And then we have a little elf’s hat that goes along with it, so it makes the unit look very Christmasy. They can take that stocking, and they can have it 20 years from now.”

It takes about five minutes, Walters said, for her to make one stocking.

“I took home economics in school,” she said with a smile, when asked how she became such a good and quick seamstress.

“It was fun. I enjoy it,” Walters said. “I make blankets for my grandkids, and I made them for my kids. I do a lot of sewing. I like it.”

That’s not all she does, though, as she is a volunteer for the Bob Wilson Auxiliary, where she helps in the gift shop a couple of days each week. Walters also is part of the hospital’s Visiting Angels, a volunteer group that visits patients on Mondays and Thursdays to help with their needs.

Walters said she is happy to help as it keeps her busy.

“I enjoy it. If I wasn’t doing that, I would probably be at home sitting around doing nothing,” she said.