Little hats, big hearts and women who knit

Ruth Cassel Hoffman
Black Mountain News USA TODAY NETWORK
Ruth Cassel Hoffman (from left), Stephen Zubrod and Betsy Stobbs hold some of the 179 red hats that local women knitted for infants.

About 200 babies are born each February at Mission Hospital in Asheville. Each will receive a red knitted or crocheted hat. Where did all these baby hats come from? They are the product of the knitting needles and crochet hooks of dedicated crafters all over Western North Carolina.

And why red hats? February is American Heart Month, and the red hats help raise awareness of heart health and congenital heart disease in little babies, as well as men and women of all ages. Literature accompanying the hats will help families live heart-healthy lives and help their children do the same.

On Jan. 30, Ruth Hoffman and Betsy Stobbs of Givens Highland Farms in Black Mountain delivered 179 little red hats to Stephen Zubrod, vice president of marketing, communications and consumer loyalty at Mission Health.

The delivery included 16 hats made by Betsy and Ruth of the WNC Knitters and Crocheters for Others. There were tiny hats for preemie heads and larger ones for big, bouncing infants. The red hats were styled in every imaginable fashion — ribbed, topped with pompoms, even a few accompanied by a little pair of booties.

Thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country, Little Hats, Big Hearts is now in 40 states, and counting. Little red hats are being distributed to babies born in hospitals all across the country this month.

The heartbeat of this mission is #LittleHatsBigHearts – the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s campaign, in connection with The Children’s Heart Foundation. The Little Hats, Big Hearts program raises awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country. Little Hats, Big Hearts began in Chicago as an American Heart Association program in 2014.


For more information on how to assist with this exciting campaign, contact Kacie Kennedy, MPH, Health Strategies Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of the American Heart Association at (919) 463-8313 or visit