Children battling chronic diseases don’t have many choices in life, but a regional non-profit group is working to provide children a fun and colorful choice when they have to visit the hospital.
Volunteers with Ryan’s Case for Smiles were at Papanana in King last week furiously creating over 300 pillowcases to be given to patients at Brenner Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital.
“We deliver the pillowcases to sick children,” Ryan’s Case for Smiles Winston-Salem Chapter Coordinator Cynthia Harris. “The nurses let the children pick one when they come in and the children get to take the pillowcases home with them. They get a new pillow case every time they are admitted. It makes no difference if the same kid is admitted every week.”
Harris, a Pilot Mountain resident, said about 15 seamstresses from the King and Pilot Mountain area were volunteering their time last week to create the pillowcases.
She said the owners of Papanana had been big supports of Ryan’s Case for Smiles for a number of years.
“We deliver the cases once a month to each of the hospitals,” she said. “We are delivering about 70 a month to Brenners, about 40 a month to the Ronald McDonald’s House and about 40 a month to Carilion in Roanoke on an as needed basis.
“It is not just a pillowcase,” she added. “It helps with a child’s self esteem and gives the child a choice. These children are in a world where they don’t have many choices. They are told when to eat, when to get up , when to go to bed. But now they get to pick a pillowcase and it gives them a choice in a world where they don’t have many choices.”
She said volunteers throughout the region both sewed pillowcases and donated fabric for the project each month.
“Fabric is quite expensive now,” said Harris. “Each chapter is responsible for raising their own money. We get donations of fabric and money to buy fabric with.”
She said those interested in donating to the project could contact her by phone at 336-403-2213 or by email at email@example.com.
“Papanana is also a donation location so anybody can come in and pick a fabric and leave it here for a donation,” she said.
Harris said local churches and civic groups, or even individuals, were also welcome to create their own pillowcases for donation.
“It is a great project for churches, scouts, or youth for schools,” she said, adding that specifications for the pillowcases can be be found online at www.caseforsmiles.org. “They have the sizes and note that they have to be made from 100 percent cotton.”
She added that the organization tries to create some of the pillows in the hospitals themselves to involve the children in the process.
“We take our sewing machines to Brenners once a month and actually do it with the children,” she said. “We let them pick the fabric they want and then we help them make it.”
Ryan’s Case for Smiles was founded by Cindy Kerr who started making pillowcases for her son Ryan more than a decade ago to brighten his hospital room and put a smile on his face.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.