LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Newborns line the hospital nursery at Memorial Medical Center in Lufkin. They look like little Santa babies wearing their snug fitting custom red hats.
Each year the Epsilon Kappa Master chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority takes time to make small Santa hats for babies born during the month of December.
The idea came from the late Mary Lee Miller. "I've been in the group 43 years and we have made these hats for probably 25 years (laugh). Anyway, it's just something we enjoy doing. Mary Lee used to do it and now I actual do the cutting out and the initial sewing together and I take them all to the meeting and we the members finish them. We all gather sew and tie and put the little pompom on," said Suzanne Bell, President, Epsilon Kappa Master chapter.
It is a service project, but more than that, volunteers say the Baby Santa Hat program is a gift of love that befits the spirit of the season. "I think they enjoy doing it. It's just something, you know, one of the reasons we celebrate Christmas is the birth of a child, you know," said Bell. "It just takes time. I'm a procrastinator so I don't ever get them ready until right before time to finish them up, but it's really an enjoyable thing to do."
Baby Edgar Manuel weighing in at 10 pounds one ounce is an early Christmas present for his parents. His due date was December 25th, Christmas day, but Edgar had other plans.
On the day of our visit, baby Edgar's mother is seeing him in his little red Santa hat for the first time. It is a surprise arrival in more ways than one. "Ten pounds one ounce and he was three weeks early. He was supposed to be born on Christmas so imagine if he would have went another 3 weeks, if we had waited another 3 weeks he would have been like 13 or 14 pounds (laugh)," said Ruby Zarzoza, Edgar's mother.
Big sister, Maritza, 2, even likes the little red hat, though she is probably more enchanted with having a new baby brother. "She loves him. She don't want nobody to try to touch him. She's really serious. She's like 'my baby' (laugh)," said Zarzoza. "You wanna say 'hi'? Say 'hi.' "Hi (waves)." Blow 'em a kiss (kiss towards camera)."
All of the babies in the nursery seem to take the new head gear in stride. "We have 16 members in our group and we consider ourselves the older group in Lufkin. There are three other chapters, we're the ones that have been here the longest, so, it's just something we enjoy doing."
Nurses say the little Santa hats are so popular that even mothers who deliver babies in the months prior to December have been known to drop back by the hospital inquiring about getting one. "When we first started it we did big felt stockings that were about this long and we left one side open and they'd actually lay the babies in the stocking when they took them to see their mother. The price of felt got too expensive and so we came up with something that's a little less expensive. I kinda like the little Santa hats better than the felt stockings. I think the mothers enjoy it too."
Bell has the duty of cutting out the fabric for the hats and getting them ready for other sorority members to help sew and assemble. The 16 of them get started around October. Bell has been making the hats for so long she does not need a pattern. "I just know how many inches wide they are and how long they are. We usually make about 75 or so. It takes a little bit, but not bad," said Bell.
"I think that's something really nice. It's nice of them to do that. They look like they're cute hats (smile)," said Zarzoza.
Making the tiny baby Santa hats is tedious and time consuming work resulting in the perfect size, for the perfect Christmas gift.