A hospital room can be an unwelcoming place, especially for a child battling a life changing disease, but somehow, three feet of fabric has been able to transform sadness into smiles.
Since 2002, thousands of volunteers - including children - have donated nearly 400,000 pillowcases to ConKerr Cancer's A Case For Smiles, a non-profit charity based in Pennsylvania that sends pillowcases to sick children in hospitals in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Isreal.
Recently, Julie Fox Annecchino, of Durham, and her two daughters, Carlie, 13, and Kate, 11, began sewing pillowcases to donate to ConKerr.
"This is a great ongoing project for our family. The girls have fun picking out the fabric and are mindful of what other kids might like if they could pick it out themselves," explains Annecchino, who says she first read about the charity in the June issue of Family Circle and was moved by the story.
"I like to sew and I thought this was an easy enough project for my girls to handle," she says.
After picking out fabric covered with peace signs, dinosaurs, fish and soccer balls, the girls got to work. The Conkerr Canker website provides sewing instructions, as well as a list of drop off locations, which includes in Durham.
The pillowcases are eventually delivered to area hospitals, including Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital and Connecticut Children's Medical Center.
"If I was sick and in the hospital, a fun pillowcase would brighten my day and I hope it does for the kids that are going to receive our pillowcases," Carlie says.
"It's a good feeling to know that you might bring a smile to another kid," adds Kate.
ConKerr Cancer's goal is to provide every child with a life changing illness in North America with a pillowcase.
"If parents need a project for their kids this summer, this is a fun one," Annecchino says. "Sewing is a great life skill, and so is giving your time and talent to a good cause."