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Mendon Seniors Center knitters and crocheters craft for a cause Crafters create plush octopi to benefit Tampa NICU

(L to R): The Yarn Works Group at the Mendon Senior Center recently crafted several octopi in recognition of NICU Awareness Month. Pictured here are craft group members Jane Zook, Diane Howell, and Julie King. Not shown are Kristy Morrill, Sue Ruggeiro, and Martha Gebelein. Courtesy photo

By Theresa Knapp
The Mendon Senior Center knitters/crocheters have been busy this fall creating soft and cuddly octopi to be donated to Tampa General Hospital in recognition of NICU Awareness Month. 
The crafting request was presented to the Mendon Senior Center Yarn Works Group by former Mendon resident Kimberly (Brown) Park, who now lives in Tampa and whose son Karter was born at 1 pound 10 ounces and spent 83 days in the NICU, according to an interview she did with WFTS Tampa Bay Action News, an ABC affiliate. You can find the full interview at 
"You may have heard of the NICU, but until you're in the NICU, you have no idea," Park told the station. Her son is now a thriving 3.5 year old, but her mission is to collect at least 100 of the octopi for NICU patients which led to the call to her Mendon friends and family (her parents still live in town).
How it works: The light weight plush octopus is set atop the baby’s chest. NICU staff then wraps the baby’s arms around the object which mimics the baby’s position in utero; this is supposed to help “position the baby in a manner that is more reflective of how normal development happens,” according to the ABC article. 
Park said any extra octopi collected will be shared with NICU siblings. 
According to, “Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (“NICU”) Awareness Month is hosted in September of every year and is designed to honor NICU patients, their families, and the NICU professionals who care for them. NICU Awareness Month fosters a supportive, empowering community for families when they are faced with life’s most challenging and difficult moments; and honors those who dedicate their lives to helping them.”
The Mendon Yarn Works Group meets on Thursday afternoons at 1 p.m. at the Senior Center to chat, share patterns knit and crochet. New members are always welcome; materials available onsite. Additionally, donations of knitted or crocheted items are wanted to be sold at the Friends of Elders fair on Dec. 2. Donations of hats, scarves, mittens, baby items may also be given to those in need.