CHICAGO — Residents across the Chicago area will be knitting and crocheting more than 20,000 tiny red hats for newborn babies to raise awareness about congenital heart defects.

The Little Hats, Big Hearts campaign began in Chicago in 2014 to celebrate American Heart Month in February, the Daily Herald reported. The campaign, which now provides more than 100,000 newborn babies in 43 states with handmade hats, was created by the American Heart Association and the Children’s Heart Foundation.

Organizers said the hats will be distributed in February with information on heart disease. Nurses usually put the hats on babies after their first bath.

The American Heart Association is still recruiting hospitals to participate and collecting hats from volunteers, but that it’s “shaping up to be another great year,” association spokeswoman Julia Kersey said.

Denise Galanis is among those volunteers. Her son, Chris, was born with a heart defect in January and had open-heart surgery when he was only 2 days old to repair the transposition of his aorta and pulmonary arteries. He spent more than seven weeks in the hospital recovering.

Galanis said her son received a red hat. She says it was a warm reminder that someone was thinking of them during a difficult time.

“I look at the picture of him with his hat on and realize how blessed we are to have him because we almost lost our son,” Galanis said. “I want to give back, even if I’m only able to make five hats. I’m new to it. I’ve never knitted or crocheted before.”

Information from: Daily Herald,

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