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, includes handmade items such as hats, booties, and blankets. In addition, the group provides 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 of providing support and comfort to preterm and critically ill infants in Iowa Neonatal Intensive Care Units. 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, toiletries, and other personal items to families of with financial challenges and non-perishable food items for nursing mothers.