PITTSBURGH - Becky and Chris Dittman will never forget the day their daughter Zoe was born.
“She was 2 months, 2 days early,” Becky said.
Early and tiny.
Zoe did not weigh even five pounds.
She spent weeks in the neo-natal intensive care at Magee Hospital.
“You're used to them being in the NICU and being taken care of. Then one day, they say they're ready to go home and they hand them to you. It's overwhelming. It's frightening, frankly,” she said
Now Zoe is a healthy 7-year-old with parents so grateful they are paying it forward through their charity called Zoe's New Beginnings.
They and a group of volunteers provide gift bags full of supplies that parents didn't anticipate needing for a premature baby.
The most essential items are the diapers, along with clothing, hand sanitizer and informational pamphlets.
"One in 9 babies is born prematurely in the U.S. and that rate is thankfully a little bit lower in Pennsylvania, but it takes a village to support this population,” said board member Amy Akers.
Akers helped Becky start the nonprofit in 2009, and it has taken off.
“We are helping thousands and thousands of parents who walk out of the NICU and don't know what the next steps will be,” said Akers.
Zoe's New Beginnings have helped smooth the transition from hospital to home for 4000 families, including the Butlers, who brought home tiny twins Connor and Cole 2 years ago.
“It's a cheerful little reminder that where not alone, and just a very nice cheerful thing for us to have,” said Katie Butler.
And every few weeks, Becky and Zoe head to Magee to drop off their baskets, a gesture of kindness, that makes us proud to be from Pittsburgh.
To learn more or to help, CLICK HERE.