Representatives from the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, the Upshur County Family Resource Center, the Heavner Grove CEOs, the Quilters at Heart Quilt Guild and the Upshur County Senior Center met Thursday at the Senior Center to present handmade pillow cases and pillows that will be distributed to senior in-home clients. Showing off the beautiful pillow cases are: back, from left, Joyce Zirkle, Mary Johnson, Shirley Warner, Eloise Tenney and Elaine Wright; front, from left, Phyllis Sembello, FRN executive director Lori Ulderich Harvey and senior center director Sarah Campbell.

Local groups partner to deliver handmade pillow cases to shut-in seniors

BUCKHANNON – Christmas is a time for sharing time, talents and resources with others.

In that spirit, a collaboration of groups have come together for the second year in a row to help brighten the holiday season for some seniors in the area. Phyllis Sembello, of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration and an Upshur County Family Resource Network board member, said she feels the project is beautiful because of the group partnerships.

“The partnership brings together so many Upshur County groups including the Heavner Grove CEOs, the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, the Upshur County Family Resource Center, the Quilters at Heart Quilt Guild and the Upshur County Senior Center,” Sembello said. “I just think it is a beautiful project.”

Sembello said the groups receive new material donated to them, which they use to craft beautiful, colorful pillow cases. She said once the pillow cases are completed, they are washed in a “free and clear” detergent, ironed, folded and placed in plastic sealed bags until they are distributed. Those who cannot sew assisted with the project by purchasing new pillows to be donated to seniors.

Upshur County Senior Center Director Sarah Campbell said she is very excited about the pillows and cases.

“We are excited about the collaboration and about giving these pillows and beautiful, colorful pillow cases to some of our in-home senior clients,” Campbell said. “I like to think of it as ‘the little things mean the most.’ It’s hard for some of our clients – they are on limited incomes, and it’s hard for them to purchase things like pillows and new pillow cases, as well as hygiene products.

“Other groups around the community bring in soaps, shampoos and other items,” Campbell added. “We will add those to these pillow cases and pillows to create senior care packages.”

Some of the pillow cases local groups — including the Heavner Grove CEOS, the Upshur County FRN, the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration and the Quilters at Heart Quilt Guild — made for the Upshur County Senior Center to gift to its in-home clients.

Campbell said most of the seniors who will receive the pillow cases and pillows are shut-ins.

“They are not able, for the most part, to get out of their homes,” she said. “These really brighten their season. It’s a bleak time of year – no leaves on the trees and it’s dark. New pillows and cases are a great gift for anyone, but for someone who may not have had a new set for years, it’s really special.”

Last year, when the pillows and cases were distributed to homebound clients, one client was deeply touched by the gift. The in-home nurses said the client’s spouse had just recently passed away, and his pillow and case had to be thrown out. They said when the grieving client was presented with the new pillow and case, she hugged it and cried.

“She’ll remember that for a long time,” Sembello said. “And we will, too. Everyone is proud to be a part of this project and we hope there will be lots of happy seniors.”

Last year, the group made and donated more than 30 pillows and homemade pillow cases. This year, that number is closer to 40.

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