This Teen Helped Newborns During Early Pandemic Days

July 13, 2022 — When Bryn Hammock learned that the babies in her local hospital’s NICU could only spend 2 hours a day with their parents due to COVID-19 restrictions at the start of the pandemic, the 18-year-old, who lives in Atlanta lives , wanted to find a way to help.

Her first step: talking to her grandmother, Deanna Simmons, 73, a now retired pediatric nurse who is also her Girl Scout troop leader and knew her granddaughter was looking for a unique Girl Scout Gold Award project.

“Bryn didn’t want to do a routine project,” Simmons says. “So when a friend noticed that one of the nurses at our local hospitals was making these weighted hand-shaped mitts that simulate the feeling of being held by a parent, Bryn reached out to her.”

That person became Hammock’s project advisor, and she was soon assigned a coach, who pushed Hammock to expand the project to help as many people as possible, Simmons says.

Initially, Hammock planned to have the team make 30 mitts, Simmons says. But with her grandmother’s help, Hammock knew she could do more. The teen created a pattern, basically two pieces of double-stitch flannel shaped like an oven mitt, sewn around a pound of Polyfill.

“During COVID-19, I had to teach Bryn how to use my sewing machine via FaceTime,” Simmons says. “But it didn’t take long for her and the other volunteers to get the hang of it.”

To make production as efficient as possible, Hammock made a DIY video and enlisted 18 volunteers to sew these mitts, which would soon become known as Tiny Hugs.

In the end, the group made 140 Tiny Hugs that were then donated to seven hospitals across the state. Hammock even did some of the deliveries itself.

This quickly became a passion project for Hammock, who will begin her pre-med studies this fall at Auburn University in Auburn, AL.

“I kept thinking about how they are so small, so helpless and in the hospital where it’s scary not having a parent with you,” she says. “I wanted to relieve those families a bit.”
One of the most satisfying parts of the project: hearing how much comfort the babies got from holding the mittens.