As I’ve searched for organizations that already have an established program accepting made items for donation, I’ve discovered a lot of good options for our students that both acquaint them with a variety of causes and issues and also provide different skill challenges. You can see the organizations (and some of our other project ideas/patterns) on my Compassionate Making Pinterest Board. One of these options included Ryan’s Case For Smiles, which is an organization that is in its 10th year providing pillowcases for children who are in the hospital. The organization aims to simply reduce some of the fear and trauma a young person faces when they are sick enough to end up in a hospital, and to date have delivered more than 1.6 million cases to 362 hospitals.
I got in contact with our area coordinator Wendy, and she was excited to hear the students would have the opportunity – our pillowcases would be headed to Children’s Hospital in Denver. I also decided to contact an organization in Washington, DC that’s been important to me since I heard about them on NPR years ago – Joseph’s House takes in terminal cancer and AIDS patients who would otherwise be homeless, and provides them with a home and “family” in their final days. I emailed their general contact link, explained the goal of our space, and asked if they would be interested in accepting a pillowcase donation from 1740 miles away. The response I received from Patty, the Executive Director, is part of why I enjoy doing this so much:
“…thanks for thinking of Joseph’s House as a place to receive your students’ expression of compassionate caring and creativity. I love the idea for them – creative expression as self-care while expressing solidarity and caring for the men and women of Joseph’s House. Wow. Pillowcases would be just right for us.”
So we had two recipients and a cool pattern that almost seemed magical and off we went. The students responded really positively to this option and started pumping out pillowcases at pretty impressive speeds, in some cases seeing who could make the most. The students exclaimed over all the cute fabrics for the pillowcases for Children’s and commented on the subtle beauty of the fabric designs for Joseph’s. About 2/3 of the way through the month I posted on social media about how proud I was of the students’ work – by that time I had needed to go get more fabric for the following days more than once. A friend of mine commented on my post, saying her son was offered a pillowcase at Children’s when he was there and seriously ill. She said that, although he’s recovered and now in college, he still has that pillowcase.
Truly, these kids are doing more for people than they know, and I am remain so proud of them. This month, 78 pillowcases were made by 28 students, 10 of whom were new to the space.