BOSTON (CBS) – Alyssa Smith unexpectedly went into labor when she was 31 weeks pregnant with her twin boys.
Back in May, her husband rushed her to Mass General Hospital in the middle of the night. As she was being admitted for an emergency C-section, she tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Because I was positive, after the boys were born I wasn’t able to be with them for five days or my husband so that was pretty traumatic,” said Smith.
The new mom wasn’t allowed to have any visitors while she recovered, but she wasn’t completely alone. Her nurse was by her side and went beyond her duties by buying balloons and little ducks from the gift shop.
“It really felt like she was a friend. She was so nice and not afraid of the fact I had tested positive,” said Smith.
Last month, Smith finally found a way to return her nurse’s kindness when she saw a post on social media from the Boston-based company called “Sh*t That I Knit,” asking people to nominate a healthcare hero deserving of a free hat.
“Nurses have a lot of early morning and late night walks to work. We thought this was a great way to brighten their day, keep them warm on their commute and let them know that people are thinking of them,” said Christina Pardy, CEO and Founder of Sh*t That I knit.
Smith nominated her nurse, but there was a problem. She only knew her first name.
So, the company posted on Instagram, asking for help tracking her down.
“A couple of my friends screenshotted it and sent it to me and said ‘hey, is this you? And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! Yea that’s me!’” said Jenny Berrio, a registered nurse at Mass General Hospital, who had cared for Alyssa.
Berrio got in touch with the company and learned she had been chosen to receive a free hand knit beanie.
“It’s really sweet of her because we don’t always know that they do think of us afterwards and it’s nice to know we had a lasting effect on her life,” said Berrio.
The company’s Instagram was flooded with messages sharing similar stories of healthcare workers going above and beyond during the pandemic.
“In the first couple hours we got close to 100 nominations,” said Pardy. “To read all the stories, it was really, really overwhelming. It made me cry quite a bit.”
Stories about real life heroes, like Nicole Warren, who worked in an ICU full of COVID patients until she was 37 weeks pregnant.
“When I was pregnant and I was working during the surge, it was very emotional because I was worried about my baby and I also have two little ones at home,” said Warren, a registered nurse at a hospital in Boston.
As a small company, STIK planned to give away 10 hats in all. Not nearly enough for all the people who had been nominated. But, then something wonderful happened.
“Out of the woodwork a couple people said I would love to sponsor a hat. I would love to pay for that so I can give someone a hat for their hard work,” said Pardy.
One of those people was Colleen McGahan, a lawyer in Boston.
“I figured I could do something small and make an impact on those who are helping so many,” she said.
Her donation went to a hat for Warren, who was over the moon, when she got that beanie in the mail.
“I was overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Warren. “It’s really, really sweet and appreciated. Especially during the holidays.”
Thanks to the kindness of strangers, STIK was able to send 100 hats to healthcare heroes. A token of warmth and gratitude after a tough year on the front lines.
If you would like to sponsor a hat for a healthcare hero, visit their website.
The company hopes to send hats to an entire hospital floor after the holidays.