Ascension Via Christi Volunteers Partners in Caring’s Sewing 101 group in Wichita, Kansas, works year-round to create comfort items for patients. But come Christmas, the group takes on the role of “Santa’s elves,” creating special holiday gifts for hospitalized patients.

Sewing 101 volunteer Marie Jones and Linda Garrison, the group’s leader, recently spent an afternoon distributing tubs of their handmade creations. “We like creating things that bring comfort to patients, especially during the holiday season when things get extra stressful,” Marie said.

At Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph, the NewLife Center received soft, roomy pouches to give to parents to wrap up their “new gift of life.” The Senior Behavioral Health unit received handmade lap quilts to help keep patients warm and cozy. Childbirth Education received swaddling blankets to distribute to new moms. “If our gifts happen to be anyone’s only gift this holiday, I want them to know that each item was made with absolute love and care by our volunteers,” Linda said.

The volunteer elves also helped make a visit from Santa to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit extra special by giving each baby a holiday-themed blanket and matching beanie. NICU associates took pictures of Santa visiting babies and gave them to parents as a holiday keepsake. “This is my favorite visit to make each December, and the blankets matched me perfectly this year,” Santa said.

Michelle Armbrister, Director of the NewLife Center and NICU, said the holiday gifts and visit helped lighten spirits during this time of year when patients and parents often are away from their extended family. “The blankets are an adorable way of bringing Christmas here in addition to Santa swaddling babies in them,” she said.