Kids' Sewing Day Allows Young People to Make a Difference

Jul 12, 2016

An annual event at CoxHealth allows kids to create items to make hospital stays easier for patients.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky stopped by to see what was going on.

One day each month from February through July volunteers gather in the Cox North Fountain Plaza Room to sew and stuff and braid and fill.  They make items that will be used by patients at CoxHealth.  There are fleece blankets, eye pillows, fluffy heart pillows and stuffed bears.

It’s usually adults who fill up the room, but a recent day saw young people doing much of the work.  CoxHealth hosts an annual Kids’ Sewing Day, and this year it was on July 8. 

Kerry Miller is volunteer coordinator at CoxHealth.  He said each year they invite kids to come in and see what they’re doing and to help out.

"It really promotes volunteerism, teamwork, but it lets them know what we do because all these items that we make go to all our patients here at CoxHealth," he said.

At one station two pre-teen boys ironed unfilled eye pillows.  At another, children and adults filled those eye pillows with flax seed.

"Our patients use them system-wide.  Our kids use them for headaches, just to calm them, they go to adults.  A lot of our chemo patients use them when they're going through chemo," said Miller.

Joseph Quiles is 14, and he came with his two older sisters, mom and grandpa.  He was busy carefully pouring the flaxseed into funnels to fill the pillows.

"I feel that if I make these then I help one child at a time.  It's not very much what I'm doing, but with a lot of people helping it makes a lot of people happy," he said.

Other kids, with the help of adults, stuffed heart-shaped red pillows for heart patients and teddy bears with hearts on their tummies for young patients.  Wilson said they give about 45 heart pillows to cardiac patients every four weeks.

Debra Lay was at that table with her great-niece, seven-year-old Ella Hedgpeth.  She heard about the event and knew her niece would love to help.

"Ella really enjoys sewing and crafts and things like that so this way she can do that as well as give to someone else who needs it," she said.

Ella explained her favorite part.

"Stuffing," she said.

She said it felt good to help other kids.

At another table, both young and old worked together to braid the edges of fleece blankets that other volunteers had already sewed. 

Miller said the items are always well received.

"I hear this from the ER staff:  when they get a teddy bear, when they get a blanket that we make, it just brightens their moment while they're there.  It's just a good feeling knowing that we're making a difference," he said.

Hospitals are kept cold for infection control, he said, so the blankets are always welcomed.

Some people operated sewing machines, including Edith Quiles whose mom owns a sewing business, so she’s been sewing since she was young.  She’s a recent college graduate who plans to go into occupational therapy.

"I'm going into healthcare so I love the idea that we can be volunteering and working with healthcare and helping patients indirectly, so this is just a mix of my passions I think," she said.

Quiles helped 11-year-old Jacey Wilson who manned the machine next to hers.

"I came to help, and it was an opportunity to help with the patients.  It makes me really happy," she said.

Kerry Miller said the kids each year on Kids’ Sewing Day learn more than just sewing skills.

"In today's society, let's face it.  For a lot of people it's about 'what's in it for me?'  Well, today they get to experience, 'what's in it for other people?' he said.

CoxHealth Auxiliary holds fundraisers each year to provide money for projects, and a portion of those funds are used to purchase supplies for the sewing days. 

Miller said volunteers are making a big impact—so far this year, system-wide, they’ve sent out about 800 items to patients.