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At Harrison, parents get the best stocking stuffers of all

The Hartford clan — Michelle, Ian and Alexis (left to right) — welcome their newest member, Camille, on Monday, Dec. 17, at Harrison Hospital in Silverdale. Camille was sent home in a stocking made by members of the Bremerton chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. - Rogerick Anas
The Hartford clan — Michelle, Ian and Alexis (left to right) — welcome their newest member, Camille, on Monday, Dec. 17, at Harrison Hospital in Silverdale. Camille was sent home in a stocking made by members of the Bremerton chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
— image credit: Rogerick Anas

Holidays are all about tradition, and the birthing center at Harrison Hospital’s Silverdale branch is no exception.

For more than 20 years, Harrison nurses have swaddled Christmas babies in gigantic stockings when it’s time for moms to take their newborns home for the first time.

“It’s been a tradition here for years,” said Jan Kessler, a patient care supervisor at Harrison. “We usually start giving them out around Dec. 20 or when it feels like the holidays are here. It’s something the parents really like.”

Kessler speaks from experience — one of her children arrived home in a stocking.

“The nurses brought out my daughter Jordan from the nursery in a stocking,” Kessler said. “And she will be 18 years old this year.”

One of the lucky stocking recipients this year was Camille Hartford of Bremerton. She left Harrison in her own stocking after being born at 4:02 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16, to Michelle and Ian Hartford. An accompanying Santa-style hat proved too small for the day-old infant.

“This is very cool,” Ian Hartford said as he gazed upon the ruddy face of his second daughter inside one of the birthing suites at Harrison Hospital Silverdale.

Each year, members of the Bremerton chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs gather to assemble the flannel stockings. The group meets for two-day work sessions in October and November to cut patterns and sew stockings, made from fabric donated by Wal-Mart in Bremerton.

“They are made out of red-and-white flannel,” club spokesperson Laura Melrose said. “We made 36 stockings this year. We could’ve made more, but we ran out of materials.”

Melrose said the group made the stockings this year with the help of AmeriCorps volunteers.

“With the left-over scraps of fabric we make mini-stockings, which AmeriCorps gives to kids in transitional housing during the holidays,” Melrose said.

Including leftovers from last year’s stock of stockings, Kessler said there are 42 stockings for this year’s crop of newborns.

“We’re hoping for an influx of expecting mothers,” Kessler joked.

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