Families with young children are encouraged to join Jodi Audino and Alison Weingold from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at Mitchell’s Ice Cream in Solon to enjoy a scoop of ice cream for a good cause.
They are volunteer cuddlers in the neonatal intensive care unit at Cleveland Clinic’s Hillcrest Hospital, providing therapeutic talk and touch to newborns when parents are unable to be at their bedside. They volunteer on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We obviously got very attached to these children,” Weingold said.
Noting babies in the NICU are often there for extended periods of time, Weingold explained she and Audino noticed many of the newborns lacked onesies to wear during their time in the hospital.
“Whether it was that the parents didn’t have enough money or the parents hadn’t collected them,” Weingold said. “We realized speaking to the nurses that the kids needed more clothing.”
Weingold has an 8- and 10-year-old, while Audino has a 6- and 8-year-old.
“Not only did we want to give back and help these NICU kids, but we wanted to find a way that we could include our children in the process,” – Weingold said.
Weingold and Audino are asking families to bring footless onesies – sizes preemie, newborn and zero to 3 months – to Mitchell’s Ice Cream during their “Winter ONESIEland!” event. Attendees can also donate gently worn onesies that have been washed.
“We wanted to do something like this so that our children, and friends of ours that have the same age children, could actually go and physically purchase the onesie for a baby,” Weingold said.
At the event, children are encouraged to write a personalized note to the NICU family their donated onesie will benefit.
Weingold and Audino are also asking for donations of trial- and travel-sized toiletries.
“A lot of these babies are there for an extended period of time and the parents have to stay there sometimes,” Weingold said. “We’re gonna make little travel bags for each parent.”
If their first event goes well, Weingold said she and Audino hope to host quarterly events with different themes to benefit the NICU.
“Eventually, we’re hoping to make it a nonprofit,” Weingold said.
She said her children are her biggest inspiration to give back.
“Every time I get home on Mondays, my kids ask me, ‘Did you hold the baby?’ or ‘What were their names?’” Weingold said. “My kids have gotten so affected by knowing that there are sick babies out there and that I’m doing such a great thing. Their parents can’t cuddle their baby every day, whether they are sick or they’re in the hospital or they have other kids.”
Publisher’s Note: Jodi Audino is the daughter of Cleveland Jewish Publication Company past board chair Barry Chesler