When Loni Frandsen was born in 1985, she was a giant compared to other “preemies” at the University of Utah Newborn Intensive Care Center. She weighed three pounds, ten ounces, but, still, her mother, Sharon, couldn’t find any clothes small enough to fit Loni properly. “We had a friend come in and bring a little Cabbage Patch doll dress, and she wore that her first Sunday. It was supposed to hit her at her knees, but it hit her ankles,” Sharon says. It took months for Loni to grow into the “preemie” clothes sold in stores.
Today, 12-year-old Loni, of the Jordan (Utah) Oaks Fifth Ward, can’t remember all of that trouble, but she’s heard enough about it to want to change things somehow. So on January 1, Loni set a goal to sew clothes small enough for babies as tiny as one or two pounds and donate them to the hospital.
“If she sets a goal, she does it,” says Sharon. “There is no stopping her.” Loni says she is always working on one goal or another. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s service oriented or meant for self-improvement; Loni is up to the challenge.
One year Loni decided to go without candy and sugary foods for a month. Another time she enlisted the help of her mother to clean all of the chairs in the Primary room. “That was a biggie,” Sharon says. “We washed every chair, and it took about three hours even with two of us.” The list could go on and on because Loni is a natural at setting goals and following through.
Her idea to sew “preemie” clothes has definitely been one of the larger goals on that list. But for Loni it was easy. She has been sewing since age eight and had no problem finding doll patterns to shrink down and follow. Within a week Loni had sewn eight outfits and delivered them to the newborns at the University of Utah Hospital.
A local television station got wind of what she was doing and picked up her story when Loni delivered the clothes to the hospital. A local viewer was impressed and donated several bolts of material to Loni for more clothes.
Loni quickly took up the challenge and sewed 18 more outfits. This time she made tiny jogging suits, dresses, and night clothes for the infants. On March 1 she returned to the hospital with another batch of clothes.
There she met Kimberly and Mark Graham, whose son Colton had been in the hospital for six weeks. Colton was born 13 weeks early and had only been dressed twice when Loni delivered the clothes. Kimberly was touched by Loni’s ability and desire to do this for her son and the other infants at the hospital. “It means a lot to the parents,” she says. “It’s especially nice because some of these people could really use this. Dressing their babies up lets them feel that they’re going to be okay and helps them realize that there are other [premature] babies out there.”
Many of the clothes Loni delivered will remain at the hospital for other infants to wear during their stay or until they grow into store-bought clothes. And, most likely, Loni Frandsen will show up again at the Newborn Intensive Care Center with an armful of clothes. For Loni service is an everyday act. She says that goals like this allow her to be an example. “[They] help me because I can do things for other people, just like Jesus would.” Loni couldn’t have said that any better.