By Ukee Washington


NEW CASTLE COUNTY, Del. (CBS) — In New Castle County, a small team of volunteers has been quietly putting together thousands of pillows. The Comfort Pillow Ministry started almost two decades ago.

When we visited the volunteers, the room was filled with the sounds of cutting, hole punching, and especially sewing.

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“You want to hear those machines going,” Joyce Cook laughed.

Eighteen years ago in the wake of 9/11, Cook started making comfort pillows, donating them to places like Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, as well as cancer centers, hospices, and the VA.

“They’re so excited to have the pillows and share them with their patients,” said volunteer Julie Bruno of Hockessin.

Once a week, a small team of volunteers, including Cook’s husband, piece together the pillows at United Methodist Church in Hockessin. Each one comes with a note of encouragement, a small prayer, decorated with a heart.

“It’s a pillow. But you know what? What it is, is telling them you care. It’s more than just a pillow,” she said.

The day we visited, Donna Leo of Landenberg, Pennsylvania was handling the stuffing. “I love the pillows,” she added. “They’re colorful, bright.”

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Then she smiled brightly. “They seem to work!”

Fellow Landenberg volunteer Ann King said, “It makes you feel really good, like you’re doing something for someone who is in a bad situation.”

Cook and the volunteers have been flooded with donations as word of the project has spread, her daughter Elaine Cook-Payne says.

“I’ve run into people who say, ‘Your mom’s the comfort pillow lady?!'” she said as she laughed.

Joyce estimates they have made about 750 to 1,000 pillows every year.

She did the math. Each pillow takes only $1.20 worth of supplies. The labor? Well, it’s a labor of love.

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“It’s all about helping other people and finding joy and sharing empathy and caring about people,” Bruno said.

“People write letters,” Cook said. “It just makes us want to do it all the more.”

Joyce wants to help other people start their own comfort pillow projects. She invites people to email her at comfortpillows@yahoo.com

Ukee Washington