TPP Founder Laura Aker
with Kaden Hood
The Preemie Project was founded in the spring of 2005 by Coralville, Iowa native, Laura Pabich (Aker). Laura wanted to use her passion for knitting to help others. After a suggestion from her mother, Laura decided to knit booties for the local children’s hospital, University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. After making contact with the staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Laura learned that they would need hats, booties and blankets for over 900 infants each year. Inspired to help warm these tiny heads and feet, Laura summoned individuals on blogs, online message boards, and email lists to join her in knitting and crocheting for premature and critically ill patients. From those invitations, The Preemie Project was born.
The Preemie Project made its first donation of hats, booties, and blankets to the UIHC neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in August of 2005. Through the support of volunteers from Iowa, across the nation and beyond, the group began making regular donations to the UIHC. Each donation, made every few weeks, included handmade items such as hats, booties, and blankets. In addition, the group provided bereavement clothing and items of remembrance to grieving families who have suffered a loss.
In 2006, The Preemie Project’s Board of Directors was formed. With their passion and guidance, The Preemie Project has grown into a statewide organization with the mission to provide comfort and support to critically ill infants and their families in Newborn Intensive Care Units in Iowa. We achieve our mission through the support of a devoted group of local and national volunteers. We strive to meet the unique needs of the tiniest Iowa citizens and their families. With this expansion came the formation of new programs like our Family Support program which provides baby clothing, diapers, formula and other personal items to families with financial challenges.
In the 10+ years since it’s formation, The Preemie Project has changed to meet the ever changing needs of Iowa NICUs. At the request of nursing staff we have added a very popular NICU bedding program and blanket sleeper program. Our donations of hats and booties has evolved into primarily donations of holiday and special event items to bring some cheer into the NICU for families. We still donate regular hats, booties and blankets to Blank Children’s in Des Moines but other Iowa hospitals have expressed that they have an overabundance of hats to give the infants when they are admitted. Many Iowa hospitals no longer accept donations of blankets for their littlest patients.
June 6, 2016
Red, White and Blue in the NICU Deadline
JULY 1, 2016
500 RED HATS CAMPAIGN
Iowa American Heart Association
August 15, 2016
Cy-Hawk Challenge Donation Deadline