Warm hearts keep mitten tree stocked

If a broken arm, serious illness or heart attack leads to a hurried trip to the emergency room this winter, Johnson Memorial Hospital wants to help keep you warm on your way home.

Inside a hallway leading back to the emergency department, you may notice a skinny Christmas tree. It’s decorated with hats, scarves and gloves instead of lights, tinsel and ornaments.

It’s the mitten tree. And it’s there for those patients and their families who come to the hospital in a rush and aren’t dressed for the weather.

Those cold-weather items are there to take. No charge. No returns necessary.

“The idea is that when people come in the emergency room they might come in their pajamas or whatever else,” Johnson Memorial Hospital Foundation executive director Jane Blessing said. “They definitely could come ill-prepared for the weather. So churches, departments in the hospital come every year to load the mitten tree up, and if they need a hat, scarves, whatever, they can take it.”

If anyone wants to donate to keep the mitten tree fully stocked, they can drop off items at the emergency reception desk, Blessing said.