(Joplin, MO) – Since 2019, Ruby Wright has hand-crafted more than 1,000 hand-knitted caps for the baby boys and girls born at Freeman Hospital West.
On June 19, 2023, the Columbus, Kansas resident made the now-familiar walk from the parking lot to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She carried a plastic bag filled with blue- and peach-colored caps for the newborns.
“This makes my 1,043rd cap,” the 90-year-old said proudly, holding up a hand-knitted blue cap. Minutes later, that cap adorned the head of newborn Truett Percival. Wright sat and gently rocked the sleeping infant for a few minutes.
“He’s adorable,” she said to the baby boy’s mother, Nicole Percival of Seneca. “This has been a good day.”
A mother of two boys herself, Wright said it takes roughly two hours to make a single-color cap and about three hours to hand-knit a two-toned color hat. She can only work for about four hours in front of the television each night before her fingers begin to ache.
“I wish I could get it done faster,” she said with a grin, wiggling her fingers. “Still, it’s a part of my daily routine. It benefits someone else. That’s why I do it.”
She began knitting the caps after joining Freeman Advantage, Freeman’s wellness program for older adults.
“I got to talking to some of the members and they were talking about making caps and blankets and different things, and I liked the idea of making caps,” Wright said. “It was something I could do and something small.”
She completed her first cap in April 2019. The first batch she dropped off at NICU contained 24 caps. Earlier this year, she completed the 1,000th cap. Aside from the blue-, pink- and peach-colored caps, she also pieces together themed caps for Halloween (pumpkins), Christmas (Santa hats), and Independence Day (red, white and blue).
“Ruby is very sweet and has been donating these hand crocheted hats for a long time,” said Bethany McGinnis, Assistant Director of Maternal-Child Services. “Crocheting these special hats for our newborns is how she chooses to spend her time. It is so sweet.”
Most of Wright’s caps will be preserved for decades inside treasured baby books by the mothers.
“I love doing it,” Wright said.
About Freeman Health System
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center — the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services — as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com.
Freeman Health System