Volunteer Spirit: Caring father has big heart for sick babies

KNOXVILLE, TN. He's a dad, husband, and a manager at Clayton Homes.

But on Monday mornings before Chuck Morgan heads to work, it's cuddle time for the babies. The babies at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

Chuck Morgan, says, "My male co-workers who know me very well and seen me with kids know why I do this and some of them just give me that puzzled look and say really? The females say awe, really?"

He's there from 6:00-9:00 am.

"There's some satisfaction of giving back to these little infants so dependent and so helpless," says Chuck.

Cuddlers volunteer 3-4 hours a week. They don't have to change diapers and they don't feed the babies, all they have to do is hold them.

NICU Nurse, Jessica Williams, says, "They are an extra set of hands, they are a lifesaver, they help us tremendously, they are very good at what they do."

But being a cuddler in the NICU is not easy. There's one unit that cares for babies born addicted to drugs, going through withdrawals.

While weaning them from medicine, Williams says, "We have to use very different measures like the holding and rocking. They don't like lot of stimulation, not rubbing on them it simulates them too much."

Chuck says, "They're uncomfortable, they're uneasy and just trying to communicate. They all have varying degree of stomach problems. You can tell the cry from I'm mad and irritable versus my stomach is really bothering me - so you have to hold them differently depending on what the symptoms may be."

It's usually 15-20 minutes per baby

"Some of them get very used to be being held and like it a lot, so they will play possum with you. You lay them down and they are wide awake again and you have to pick them up. The younger ones you have to hold a little longer - you want them to get into that deep sleep." they are more likely to stay asleep."

And sometimes that can take a while.

"I've held them for more than hour before, just trying to comfort them."

Chucks own (3) kids range in age from 15 - 20 years old.

His wife is comedienne Leanne Morgan who supported ETCH in Dancing with the Knoxville Stars earlier this year.

It was during a tour of the NICU with Leanne and the rest of the dancers that lead Chuck to volunteer.

He is one of three men in the program of 60 volunteers.

Contact ETCH or any hospital in your area if you are wanting to volunteer. There are many areas that your time and talents are needed.

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