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A little bit of fabric equals a lot of love: a pillowcase makes the hospital feel like home

June 08, 2012

Written by Nora Elkins, customer service specialist.

Have you ever seen a teenage boy get excited over a yard of fabric?

I have. In fact, I see it frequently.

As a customer service specialist, I have the privilege of visiting our patients & their families and offering simple resources, particularly for the caregiver, to help make their stay in the hospital as comfortable as possible. Through generous donations I am well equipped to offer shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes and yes, even laundry detergent, to our families. It’s a small gesture that removes a few of the stressors a caregiver might experience with a child in the hospital, and it is an honor to be able to serve them in their time of need.

Thanks to an amazing, talented, selfless, caring (I could go on…) group of people called volunteers, I am also equipped to walk into those rooms with gifts! Beautiful, handmade gifts. The types of handcrafted items you would see in the fall, adorning the tables at a local craft festival, where artisans show off their wares as the weather begins to change. I have held quilts in my hand, where various fabrics have been pieced together, square by square, expanding and growing until they become full size tapestries of color and pattern. I even know of a quilter who lovingly stitches a heart in her “canvas” and as she does so, she prays for its future recipient. Beautiful works of art, created for our patients if for no other reason than to bring them joy in a time of trouble.

Although these beautiful quilts require large blocks of time and quantities of fabric- it is the “yard“, that seems to create the biggest smile. Yes, even on a teenage boy! No, especially on the teenage boys! For it is in one yard of fabric, folded and stitched that the corners of the mouth begin to turn upward. Thirty-six inches with the power to turn a day around, to brighten up a hospital room and make it feel like home! 

What is so special about this yard of fabric you ask? It’s special because when you follow the instructions, when you fold it just right and sew up the seams, your yard of fabric transforms and morphs into a handmade, unique, freshly washed, smells like home, pillowcase. There isn’t a patient that doesn’t love them. They even collect them. Some of our patients are “frequent fliers” (if you will), and so they visit the hospital regularly - and they begin to ask for their pillowcase. If they know they are coming to the hospital, some of them, like my 17-year-old friend Kayla, have them laundered and then bring their collection in their suitcase!

Being in the hospital is never easy but if all it takes is thirty-six inches of fabric from a craft store, and a few minutes in front of the sewing machine to bring a smile to a child’s face - then I say let’s head to the craft store and pick up some fabric!  But when you do, don’t forget to get something for the teenage boys… because I think they like homemade pillowcases better than video games.