How you can help

We would like your help...

Patients at State hospitals and clinics in South Africa are typically destitute, malnourished, as well as being very sick or injured. Many are jobless, many are homeless, and many have no loved-ones to provide the basic needs for them in hospital.

The Ruth Mailbag Group strives to provide for the needs of destitute moms and babies in the maternity and NICU of our local state hospital and several other hospitals in our country who have asked for our help by providing them with a basic baby pack for their new and or sick babies.

If you can assist please get in touch with us through or visit our blog at for more information.

Yours sincerely,
Joy Coetzee
Founder – The Ruth Mailbag Group

Or a hospital near you... please, browse through the following list, I’m sure you will find a government hospital near you to support:
Contact Details of Public Hospitals in South Africa -
Eastern Cape -
Gauteng Province -
Johannesburg -
KZN -;
Port Elizabeth -
Western Cape -

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Gift Tags

Raising awareness of our organization helps us to not only celebrate more volunteers but also let others know we can help them.
Please send me an email ( to request gift tags to use when donating.
Thank you.



Ordinary parcel - An ordinary parcel is any postal item that is bigger than 353 x 250 x 30mm and/or weighs more than 1kg. The maximum length is 1m and the length plus girth may not be more than 2m. The domestic counter-to-counter parcel service (ordinary parcel) is the most economical way to send a parcel. Customers can send parcels from any Post Office counter to any other Post Office counter in the country.

Econoparcel - An Econoparcel is a parcel that is not bigger than 458 x 324 x 100mm and does not weigh more than 1kg.

DOMESTIC PARCEL RATES (non regulated tariffs subject to change)

Ordinary parcel (counter to counter) R31.55 for the first kg R 4.25 for each additional kg or part of a kg

Econoparcel R19.30

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Gifting and visit at our local state hospital

Gifting and visit at our local state hospital

Please visit our facebook page and take a look at the album my friend has created for us at

Thank you.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Warning - Lacy items

I found this on a different knitting forum:

Last night we made a trip to an emergency room for a 3 month old neighborchild who had a finger amputated. She had been wrapped in one of those cocoon style pouch that was hand knitted by a family friend. The parents laid her down in her bed because they thought she would sleep through the night. The thing is this was a loser knit bag that her fingers got twisted into and it had her finger black about four hours after putting her down. The doctors took the finger at the second knuckle but were angered at the parents for leaving her in the bag.

The doctors have these suggestions: don't wrap a baby to leave them in the crib in anything that is not solid fabric; don't let the babies sleep in these knitted or crocheted bags as the baby and smother or cut off circulation if they get entangled; if you do knit or crochet don't leave large loops or spaces in the project so baby's can wear or sleep safely.

I know myself I often knitted a lacy pattern for a blanket and will now switch to a more confined pattern. But who would have been thinking of a gift being harmful. The doctors told us last night that someone had made a large blanket in a really lacy knit that was found around a baby’s neck; luckily the parents were mindful of the baby during the nap and caught it before it became harmful. He also mentioned that pom poms and strings should be avoided in baby items for those under 3.

I wanted to pass this on for all of us to think about.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Valentine's Day Project

Valentine’s Day Project

We are collecting “Valentine’s Day” Items for the babies. Please help.

Closing date – Friday, 10 February 2012

Please deliver / send to:

The Ruth Mailbag Group

“For charity – NO retail value”

C/o Foto First

180 Murchison Street

Ladysmith, 3370

Thank you, in anticipation!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Newsletter - 8 January 2012

The Ruth Mailbag Group is a group of volunteers who knit, crochet, sew, and provide baby items to the destitute moms and babies at the state hospital. All Ruth Mailbag Group items are given free to infants, children and their parents.  Join simply means to help. Once you create an item and donate it, you have joined. Please help.


Thank you, Anonymous, for the clothes, nappies, etc.
Thank you, Judy, for delightful little sets.


GIFTED AT THE STATE HOSPITAL - 26 newborn and 27 premature babies. All very grateful and the staff very busy. During one visit many of the boarder moms were lying under their beds on the floor as it was so very hot here, they assured me that it was cooler lying down there, they had taken the top sheets off their beds and spread them on the floor, and with their pillows they were comfortable. Must admit several were sleeping soundly. The fans were whirling away but not too successfully. Happy visits!!!  Thank you to all who contributed and made these packs possible, without you this project would not be possible.

The staff at the state hospital asked that we sponsor baby packs for the New Year babies, I made up 2 special packs that I left with the staff to present to the New Year babies and their moms.

Please remember that the current project is Chemo Caps for Hospice; the first of the chemo caps have arrived... Thank you! You may include hats / scarves / turbans / bandanas / bed socks, etc.  This is a free basic pattern for a hat. You do not need to know how to knit with circulars or double point needles - this pattern is meant for straight needles and the sides are then joined after it's knitted together.  Hat dimensions: One size fits most. Length: 10"

I have created a list of MINI CHALLENGES / WEEKLY PROJECTS FOR THE BABIES, if you would like a copy of this list please send me a blank email, in the subject line write WEEKLY CHALLENGES and I will send it to you.

HINTS AND TIPS ON KNITTING FOR PREMATURE BABIESPattern links below are only there as examples, you may use your own favourite patterns.

What size do I knit?
Don't put too much emphasis on trying to perfect the size of a preemie garment. There is a great variation between premature baby sizes that an item of any size should be suitable for at least one baby. As a general guide premature babies head circumference is approximately the same as their chest circumference. The average preemie baby's chest measurements are 8" - 14". However clothes of all sizes are required for preemies, so no matter how big or small your item is it will most likely fit at least one baby.

Which colours do I choose?
Pastel colours are the most popular but in Africa they appreciate colour and the brighter the colours the better they like them. Apart from the obvious baby pinks and blues other colours which may be used are: Lemon, Cream, White, Mint green, Peach, Lilac and Aqua. When knitting burial garments the advice suggests its best to use colours such as white or cream.

How do I know which yarn to use?
Premature babies have very delicate skin and can often be allergic to wool; therefore it is best to avoid garments made with a wool mix. Acrylic yarn is more suitable when knitting for preemies. Ideal yarn to use for preemie knits is baby double knit or 4ply yarn. Most preemie patterns will use these.

Do I need special fastenings?
Plain flat half-inch buttons are best to use for fastening. Avoid nylon and metal fastenings, as they get very hot under the incubator heaters. Do not use Velcro as a fastening, it is very scratchy on the hook side and also damages knitted garments when they are laundered. EASE OF DRESSING IS VITAL FOR PREEMIES openings all down the front or all down the back are perfect and as a general rule it is best not to use ribbon as a fastening as ribbon can often be fussy to tie on a garment so small.

What do I choose to knit?

1. Cardigans
These are the most frequently used preemie clothing. V-Necks or round necks are the best to knit FOR 'GIVE' AND EASE OF DRESSING. Cuffs and shoulders should have plenty of 'give' to help make dressing easy. Stretchy knits such as garter stitch work best as they provide the necessary 'give'.

2 Needle Cardigan (HKP)

By Paulene
Here is a little 16” cardigan with just one arm seam - for those of you who don't like working on 4 needles! Knitted from the top down.

2. Blankets
Avoid lacy patterns or blankets with large holes in can be dangerous for little fingers.

Baby's 1st Blanket (HKP)

Submitted by Lyn
This blanket is warm with no holes for little fingers to catch in. It can be used to wrap baby up whilst feeding or nursing, or as a little cover. It fits the little cribs in Hospitals. It's approx 24" Square.

3. Hats
Keep the designs simple and preferably without any ties and fastenings.

Pull-on Baby Hat - to suit newborn baby (HKP)

Sideways Knitted. This little hat is very simple to knit. Very useful. Can easily be done striped. We have even seen it done in Football Colours. It is used in the Delivery Suite and on the Neo-natal ward.

4. Booties
Garter stitch is the best to use for booties as it is stretchy which makes it easier to put the booties on. It is better to knit shaping at the ankle to provide grip rather than use tie or cords.

Tiny Baby Bootees (HKP)
These are Ray Of Hope's favourite tiny baby bootees! Be careful when you knit bootees keep them very small.  Watch your pattern size. They could start school in some. The feet of Shirley’s samples measure just 2 ½" (6cm) across and they are 2" (5cm) deep when the top is turned over.

    THE RUTH MAILBAG GROUP MEETINGS will commence in February and will be held on every 1st Saturday of the month, from February through November from 14h00 – 16h00 at Tuinhuis. Thank you, Tuinhuis, for your hospitality! Please bring your charity knitting, crocheting, & sewing; any yarn and or patterns to swap; money for refreshments, etc. (Right of admission reserved.)  December we will hold the end of year function at a venue yet to be determined; in January the group will be in recess.

NEEDS – (e.g. this list is not cast in stone; you may think of something that does not appear on this list, go right ahead and include in your donation any item you think will benefit the recipient)

Food for hampers – Mpilonhle Project
Wool for the knitting circle
Fabric and sewing cotton for sewing circle
Newborn disposable / cloth diapers / cream / ointment / petroleum jelly / safety pins / Snappis
Baby washcloths / face cloths / sponges
Gowns / kimonos / premature & newborn sleeper outfits / dresses
Receiving blankets / swaddling blankets
Pairs of socks / booties / hats / sweaters / jackets
Pacifiers / baby shampoo / baby lotion / baby brush & comb set / baby soap / baby towels
Crib blankets
Nipple cream
Baby bottles with nipples / baby bibs
Small soft toys
Shampoo / Conditioner
Baby Powder
Hand/Body Lotion / Aqueous / Petroleum Jelly / Campher
Toothpaste / Mouthwash / Toothbrush
Deodorant / Chap Stick / Comb or small brush
Soap / Shower gel / Hand wash
Facecloths / Sponges
Slippers / Bed socks
Comfort scarves

Please feel free to include mini / sample toiletries that you've picked up in hotels during your travels. These would be perfect.


THE RUTH MAILBAG GROUP, “For charity – NO retail value”, C/O Foto First, 180 Murchison Street, Ladysmith 3370, South Africa

Please remember to add your name and address / email so I can let you know they have arrived...


Fax 086 516 4618