Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 13, 2013

Puppy pillows comfort children in hospital

By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS

MIDDLEBURY — Many, many soft and cuddly puppy pillows have been made with love and given love in return.

Members of the Middlebury Homemakers Club have made 3,185 “puppy pillows” for distribution throughout Elkhart County for children who have been hurt or scared in various situations.

Jenifer Coffman, director of the Emergency Department at IU Health Goshen Hospital, said the pillows are given to children in the emergency room.

“Sometimes it can change the whole visit for a kid,” Coffman said. “They might be fearful and screaming, and then you give them a pillow. They’ll reach out and maybe smile but still have tears. Sometimes we give one to the parents to help them. They (the pillows) are so soft.”

Coffman said the emergency department has run out of the pillows.

“It does make a difference when the nurses give one to a child,” Coffman said. “It takes away the kiddo’s tears and our goal it to help make them feel better. It’s really an intrinsic reward, giving something so soft to help make our jobs easier at times. They are so nice.”

The ER director appreciates the efforts of the Middlebury Homemakers Club.

“They’re a nice group to work with,” Coffman said.

And the members of the club enjoy making the pillows to help make a difference for children. They also make heart pillows for women with breast cancer at The Retreat Women’s Health Center in Goshen.

Evelyn Kozman of Middlebury knows from personal experience the difference a handmade pillow can make for a child.

Two of her grandchildren received a pillow for different health reasons and thought it was a worthwhile project for the Homemakers Club, if they wanted to do it.

“We started with 261 (in 2003) and kept going up and up (in numbers) until we decided about three years ago that 350 a year was enough,” Kozman said.

Each member of the club contributes different tasks towards the project.

Kozman cuts out the dog pattern pieces and draws a face on the front side of each pillow.

Mary Leach, Dian Wilkey and Glenna Kindy sew the pieces together on their sewing machines, leaving an opening on the bottom edge so Jeannine Talley, Bev Brouwers and Edna Hochstetler can stuff the pillows with polyester stuffing and hand-stitch the seam shut when they are finished.

“It’s fun. We like to do it,” Leach said. “It’s easy and fun for us. I like to find fabric for the pillows. I like to go through Wal-Mart and pick out the cutest fabric.”

The members find fabric and stuffing at garage sales and thrift stores, as well as donations from individuals and a some home economic classes from some area middle schools.

“We enjoy the good fun and good fellowship while working on them,” Talley added. “The hardest part of the project is sewing on the little ears. It’s a great project.”

A label on each pillow tells the recipient who the donors are — Sewn by an Elkhart County Extension Homemaker.

The Middlebury Homemakers Club receive some of their supplies from the Elkhart County Extension Homemakers and from other sources, as well.

They have donated the pillows to local law enforcement agencies, as well as the hospitals.

Kozman smiled after reading a thank-you note from Coffman.

“She wrote, ‘The sweet handmade pillow pets, they bring a smile to our kiddos,’” Kozman said. “We feel like we have been doing something very good as we work on them for others.”

For more information on donations or becoming a member of the Middlebury Homemakers Club, call the club president at 574-825-2697.