Losing a baby at 19 weeks pregnant was what led Waikato mum Andrea Olliver-Thompson to help other families through similar experiences.

Andrea is the owner of Huggable Hearts, a charity that sews fabric hearts for families that have lost a child.

Since the charity started four years ago, more than 1000 families around New Zealand have taken up the free service.

But to continue its good work Huggable Hearts needs financial help.

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It is holding a movie night in Cambridge next week to raise funds for material and postage costs.

Huggable Hearts owner Andrea Olliver-Thompson. Photo / Ruby Red Photography
Huggable Hearts owner Andrea Olliver-Thompson. Photo / Ruby Red Photography

Andrea and her husband Nathan lost their daughter Amber in 2014 after she was born with a chromosomal disorder called Turner syndrome.

Andrea says the family's grief was unbearable.

"All our dreams and hopes we had for Amber were now broken and we didn't have many memories to create of her," Andrea says.

"The way I got through my grief was getting a little doll made. It was the size and weight of my daughter — 10cm and 100 grams."

Huggable Hearts are made from fabric and filled with rice to match the weight of the baby. Photo / Ruby Red Photography
Huggable Hearts are made from fabric and filled with rice to match the weight of the baby. Photo / Ruby Red Photography

The doll provided comfort during waves of grief.

"Whenever grief hits you it's nice to have something tangible to hold or cuddle that stands for your baby," she says.

"It could sit in my pocket and I could take it along to events like birthday parties or moments where I felt a bit anxious.

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"My husband also carried it around a little bit to help with his grief."

That's where the idea for Huggable Hearts started.

The hearts are sewed by Andrea, her family members and one main volunteer, Ida Scott. Photo / Ruby Red Photography
The hearts are sewed by Andrea, her family members and one main volunteer, Ida Scott. Photo / Ruby Red Photography

The hearts are sewed by Andrea, her family members and one main volunteer, Ida Scott.

They are made from fabric and filled with rice to match the weight of the baby.

The charity can also create custom hearts using a baby's blanket, wrap or onesie.

The hearts aren't just for the mum of the baby — they can be for the father, siblings and grandparents.

People can request a heart for themselves or for someone else.

"Our hearts are for anyone and everyone," Andrea says.

"Even for someone who's lost a baby in the 1960s. It's awesome that we're still able to help people from that long ago."

Sometimes the charity will provide two hearts — one for the family to use and another for a keepsake.

"We also provide palm-sized hearts for earlier losses."

Andrea says people are always grateful for the free service.

"The first heart that was ever picked up was hugely emotional for me and the family," Andrea says.

"The first time the father held it he broke down in tears.

"It was nice to know I could give him something to remind him of his son and be a physical connection."

Andrea and Nathan now have a second daughter, Clara.

"Clara knows all about Amber and she is still a big part of our family — it's why I do huggable hearts."

The movie night fundraiser screening of Daffodils is at Tivoli Cinema on Thursday, March 21 at 8pm. Tickets are $25 and include finger food from 7pm.

There will be a second fundraiser at Tivoli Cinema on Tuesday, June 4, which will screen Rocketman at 8pm.

Contact Andrea for tickets on huggablehearts1@gmail.com or 0273472744.