Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Rests Easy Knowing Their Pillows Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Rests Easy Knowing Their Pillows Help

Article excerpt

Dozens of decorated pillows are being made in Jacksonville Beach with the hopes of making this holiday season a little brighter for people who are shut in.

So far, about 150 pillows have been made by a group of volunteers. Jacksonville Beach resident Maria Swed organized the pillow project.

"It's a blessing for me to do something like this because it makes you feel so good," she said. "A lot of people are looking to do something for others that has meaning for the holidays. This is a good project because it brings people together."

Swed got the idea for the project during the holiday season last year. Her sister had been recovering from a stroke at Brooks Rehabilitation Center. Swed frequently went to visit her sister, and couldn't help notice that so many other patients weren't as fortunate to have family close by to visit. Swed wanted to do something that would help fill that void.

"There are so many people that don't have anyone," she said. "It's really very sad, especially during the holidays, when you're shut in and you don't have family and friends who are able to visit."

Swed wanted to offer something comforting. An avid sewer, she made about 20 pillows last year. She wrote a holiday prayer for each pillow and tied it on with a ribbon. She took the pillows to Brooks on Christmas Eve, to be distributed to patients who were alone.

"It filled me with such joy to do something good like this," she said.

Beaches resident Michelle Matteson says being a part of the pillow project has special meaning since her mother lives in a nursing home in New York.

"It's a nice way for me to contribute and help someone else since I couldn't really help my Mom's nursing home," she said. "For me it's an opportunity to be a blessing to someone else and a symbolic way for me to show my gratitude to those who are being so good to my Mom in New York. …

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