Get Started

July 16, 2021

Bergen Teen Donates Handmade Hats to Valley Hospital’s NICU

Moved by the loss of her infant sister, Erin Choi decided to use her knitting skills to craft hats for babies who require a stay in intensive care. This summer, the 2021 Academy of the Holy Angels graduate presented the Valley Hospital with 40 hats made by Choi and her club, Knitting for a Kause.


“I wanted to use my talents to help bring hope to parents who have premature babies or infants that are in the NICU,” Choi explained. The Cliffside Park resident said her grandmother got her started knitting. Choi was just 10 years old at the time. She enjoys making stuffed animals and blankets, but focused her service work on hats, which help to stabilize body temperature.


Choi launched Knitting for a Kause with the aid of AHA art teacher Kathryn Biskup, who served as club moderator. Biskup acknowledged that Choi spearheaded the club members’ creation of the hats and organized the donation. Biskup and the club’s 16 members used US size 8 needles (5.0 mm) and baby yarn to create the colorful, life-saving headgear.


“Erin started the club over a year ago, but the pandemic hit right in the middle of the year we were working on hats,” Biskup said. “This was 2019-20, and we did not officially run the club this year (2020-21). Once we returned to school in person this year, we got together the hats we had already made and Erin donated them.”


Katie Miller from Valley Hospital received the donated hats in late June.

This fall, Choi will be studying anthropology at Bard College.

“If I can, I would love to find a way to continue this project at Bard,” she said, when asked about the future of her service project.

Choi also hopes to share her evocative gayageum music within the Bard community.

“I hope that I can find a place at Bard and they will be as accommodating to my instrument as Holy Angels,” said Choi, who studied with AHA Instrumental Music Director Mariann Annecchino.


Choi played her 25-string zither-like instrument for the AHA Orchestra and adroitly adapted the parts so she was an integral member of the ensemble.

She will continue to play for Rami Seo’s Gayageum Ensemble Music in New York.

Choi uses her gayageum to help people connect with Korean culture, and to build a better world. Her music helped GEMiNY raise over $5,000 for Good Neighbors USA, a non-profit that provides safe drinking water and restroom facilities to schools and neighborhoods in Africa.

In 2019, Choi and her fellow musicians from GEMiNY performed for 3,000 people at the Dallas Korean Festival in Carrollton, Texas. At AHA, she played her gayageum at International Night, Open House, and during Music in Our Schools Month. She is a member of Tri-M, the national music honor society, which accepts student musicians who exhibit scholarship, character, leadership, and service.


During her years as an Angel, Choi took AHA’s bespoke course in critical thinking and oral presentation at Oxford University. She was a member of the AHA Cross-Country Team, displayed her drawings in the Academy’s main lobby, and assisted with the Mystic Sand science demo at AHA’s Fall Open House.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.