Former nurse Amy Deickman saw a need for clothing for premature babies when she worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
It's one that she again plans to fill this holiday season.
For the fifth year, the Catonsville resident will be driving throughout the Baltimore region in her black Honda Accord to pick up new and gently used clothing and deliver it to area hospitals.
"One of the greatest needs I saw was for babies, in particular premature babies, because the clothing they had was too big, or it gets worn out really easily because it gets changed and gets holes in it," said Deickman, who worked at GBMCfrom 2008 to 2010, caring for newborns in need of intensive medical attention.
Deickman said the same clothing used for healthy newborns is used for babies born much smaller in the NICU unit, which is problematic because it doesn't fit properly.
"They don't provide the adequate warmth that the babies need," she said.
Medical staff often had to rely on clothing donations from parents whose children outgrew clothing for the newborns, Deickman said.
"I just want to provide them with enough [clothing] so that they don't have to worry about it," Deickman said, "and so the nurses don't have to go out and spend their own money to help replenish and replace these items.
"That's really where we counted on getting it from, because hospitals don't provide the clothing needed for babies in the NICU. So I decided that I was going to start providing clothing to the best of my ability to hospitals in the region."
She delivered used clothing to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Saint Agnes Hospital, St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital and The Johns Hopkins Hospital last year.
This year, she will add Mercy Medical Center to that list, she said.
"Of course, if I wind up with more than the six hospitals can handle, I have others on the list," Deickman said.
Brandi Ibarra, nurse manager of the NICU and pediatrics unit at St. Joseph's, said the donations are always welcome.
"I don't always have the money in my budget to buy clothing, so the donations go a long way," Ibarra said. "We really appreciate them."
Deickman has also set up an account on fundraiser website gofundme.com titled "Clothe-a-NICU-baby" where she has raised $295 toward a goal of $1,000. She had raised an additional $120 through friends and family as of Dec. 11, she said.
The money will be used to buy new clothing in sizes preemie, newborn, 0-3 and 3-6 for babies in NICU units, she said.
Once the Jan. 5 fundraiser deadline comes, she'll sort and bag the clothing with the help of her sons Brady Willis, 17; Ryan Willis, 15, and Lucian Deickman, 3, and husband Mark Deickman.
"We try to make sure that it's equal and that all hospitals receive an equal amount of clothing," Deickman said.
Finding families who can donate clothing hasn't been difficult, she said.
"A lot of people have had premature babies, so they understand the need too," said Deickman, whose 3-year-old was born premature. "When they see the drive happening, they're more than willing to help out."