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Looming for babies

Senior Airman Chey Weaver, 47th Medical Support Squadron biomedical equipment repair technician, instructs Rita Riojas, 47th Medical Operations Squadron dental assistant, during a Heartstrings “lunch-n-loom” session at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 21, 2016. Heartstrings is a program started by two Airmen who teach attendees to crochet knit baby hats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow)

Senior Airman Chey Weaver, 47th Medical Support Squadron biomedical equipment repair technician, instructs Rita Riojas, 47th Medical Operations Squadron dental assistant, during a Heartstrings “lunch-n-loom” session at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 21, 2016. Heartstrings is a program started by two Airmen who teach attendees to crochet knit baby hats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow)

Maj. Connie Jones, 47th Medical Operations Squadron nurse, looms a baby hat at a Heartstrings session on Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 21, 2016. The hand-made knit baby hats made in the Heartstrings “lunch-n-loom” sessions are donated to the Val Verde Regional Medical Center, a local hospital, and local clinics for newborn babies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow)

Maj. Connie Jones, 47th Medical Operations Squadron nurse, looms a baby hat at a Heartstrings session on Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 21, 2016. The hand-made knit baby hats made in the Heartstrings “lunch-n-loom” sessions are donated to the Val Verde Regional Medical Center, a local hospital, and local clinics for newborn babies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow)

Knit hats rest on a table on Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 21, 2016. Senior Airmen Chey Weaver and Rebekah Sparks, both members of the 47th Medical Support Squadron, started the Heartstrings program with the hopes of giving back to the community while teaching a useful skill to fellow comrades. During their Heartstrings “lunch-n-loom” sessions, Weaver and Sparks teach attendees to crochet knit baby hats and donate the hand-made knit hats to the Val Verde Regional Medical Center, a local hospital, and local clinics for newborn babies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow)

Knit hats rest on a table on Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 21, 2016. Senior Airmen Chey Weaver and Rebekah Sparks, both members of the 47th Medical Support Squadron, started the Heartstrings program with the hopes of giving back to the community while teaching a useful skill to fellow comrades. During their Heartstrings “lunch-n-loom” sessions, Weaver and Sparks teach attendees to crochet knit baby hats and donate the hand-made knit hats to the Val Verde Regional Medical Center, a local hospital, and local clinics for newborn babies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow)

Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas --

Two Laughlin moms – who are both Airmen - wanted to make a difference and found a novel way, helping give Del Rio’s local infants a warm welcome into the world.

Senior Airmen Chey Weaver and Rebekah Sparks, both from the 47th Medical Support Squadron, were encouraged to volunteer among their wing and community as a part of being well-rounded Airmen.

An idea sparked when Weaver, biomedical equipment repair technician and long-time knitter, helped Sparks refresh her skills, who found them useful since having her daughter in November 2014.

From there, both had two things in common: a skill they were passionate about and a drive for community betterment.

That was the beginning of Heartstrings, a program started by the two Airmen who teach attendees how to knit baby hats using a loom.

“Between Senior Airman Weaver and I, our main focus was to become more involved with the community and to find something we were passionate about in order to pursue this goal,” said Sparks, a unit deployment manager. “We decided to give back by making sure our community’s children were taken care of in a special way.

Together, both Airmen began hosting their Heartstrings “lunch-n-loom” sessions within the 47 MDG, and donate the hand-made knit hats to the newborn babies at the Val Verde Regional Medical Center, a local hospital, and to local clinics.

“I attended the lunch-n-loom because I was interested in learning something new,” said Rita Riojas, 47th Medical Operations Squadron dental assistant. “I learned how to make a hat that I was very proud of with the help and patience of Senior Airman Weaver. I would definitely recommend this class to others.”

Since beginning the crocheting sessions, Weaver, Sparks’ and their attendees have donated 35 hats to local medical facilities.

“I feel the impact we make presents a positive image of who Airmen here at Laughlin are, while also supporting families within our community,” said Sparks. “We are currently holding classes and are always open for new ideas and volunteers.”

This program is open to all Laughlin members. If planning to attend, please bring personal small five and a half inch round knitting loom along with soft, bulky yarn.

The two Airmen are inviting the rest of Team XL to the next Heartstrings session. Upcoming sessions will be announced once scheduled.

For questions or more information, contact Senior Airman Weaver at 298-6415 or Senior Airman Sparks at 298-6411.