Designing for Good: Onesies for NICU Babies

digital communications students with onesies

With technology continuously advancing and evolving, Lebanon Valley College students are developing new and creative opportunities to give back to the community. The students in DigiVal (Digital Valley Club) used the technology available in the Digital Communications and Interaction Design Programs to design and deliver onesies to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) babies and graduates at UPMC Harrisburg Hospital.

The project first started at the suggestion of Alyssa Matheus ’22, a digital communications major and member of DigiVal, who had completed a similar project in high school for the Women and Babies Hospital in Lancaster, Pa. She thought the project would be an excellent way for the members of DigiVal to work together, learn new skills, and connect with the community.

“I first realized that I wanted to be a designer when I delivered the onesies to the Women and Babies hospital,” said Matheus. “I observed how my work affected others and saw the smiles on the parents’ faces when they took their baby home in the onesie I created. This moment has stuck with me ever since, and I am excited to initiate a project that makes people happy.”

With the help of Dr. Jeff Ritchie, the club advisor and chair of design, media, and technology, the project launched quickly. Ritchie connected club members with Stephanie Martin, director of the NICU at UPMC Pinnacle.

“I am extremely grateful DigiVal reached out to us. This project has been a personal desire for a long time, and I am thrilled to help make this dream come true,” Martin said.

As former DigiVal president, Kayla Shuman ’21 was the primary project coordinator, which includes maintaining contact with the NICU, gathering materials, and organizing and hosting club meetings. The creative process, however, is not a solo task. All club members were encouraged to submit design ideas. Out of the proposed options, members voted on three: two for inpatient onesies and one for graduate onesies.

To help with production, DigiVal uses a vinyl cutter and heat press in the digital communications studio. Matheus oversees training other students on those machines.

“The ability to do all of this, plus more, right here at LVC, is such a unique experience,” said Shuman.

DigiVal hopes to continue the collaboration with the NICU and expand to additional hospitals while inspiring others to design for good and make a difference.

“Please know that your time and creativity is much more than a simple task; you are joining our team in providing our families with a gift,” said Martin to the LVC students.

“A gift that they will look back on and remember forever.”


Parker Gallagher, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant

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