NORFOLK, Va. – Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has received a $10,000 grant from Huggies “No Baby Unhugged” program to support its volunteer cuddler program.

The grant was one of eight given to hospitals throughout the country this year to start or support ongoing programs that increase human touch of newborns in neonatal intensive care units. At CHKD, the grant will be used to buy recliner chairs and footstools and to pay for expenses such as volunteer immunizations, uniforms, and background checks.

CHKD opened its NICU in 1972. Today, it’s the most advanced in the region, admitting about 550 babies a year. The volunteer cuddler program began in 2003 with nine cuddlers, a number that’s since grown to 39. Last year, they logged 1,600 hours of hugs. Cuddlers must first have 60 hours of volunteering in other parts of the hospital before taking on this important position. Find more information about volunteering at CHKD here

Dale Pearson, CHKD’s longest running volunteer cuddler, has been comforting NICU babies for the past 15 years. She’s a polio survivor who spent time in the hospital as a child growing up in Maine, and remembers seeing others in “iron lung machines” in wards far different from the cheerful units at CHKD. The Portsmouth resident comes to CHKD every week to bring comfort and cheer to hospitalized children.

“Hugs are critical to our babies here at CHKD,” said Laura Biava, director of patient care services at the NICU. “Not only do cuddlers provide touch to help babies develop and grow, but they also reduce the burden and stress for families and staff who can’t always be there to cuddle their babies.”

News Releases_Volunteer Cuddler Dale Pearson

Pictured: Long-time CHKD volunteer cuddler Dale Pearson prompts a smile from a NICU patient. 

About CHKD

CHKD is the only freestanding children’s hospital in Virginia and serves the medical and surgical needs of children throughout greater Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The not-for-profit CHKD Health System operates primary care pediatric practices, surgical practices, multi-service health centers, urgent care centers and satellite offices throughout its service region.

About the Huggies Brand

Huggies believes in the Power of Hugs. No Baby Unhugged is Huggies’ promise to ensure babies get the care they need to thrive – from innovative everyday products, growing hospital hugger programs, and developing specially designed products for the tiniest of babies. For more information on the No Baby Unhugged program, visit the “Why Huggies?” page at