Phyllis Cayer, of Rhode Island, cares about her community. She’s been sewing up a storm since the start of the pandemic, making hundreds of face masks for those in need. She ended up earning $10,000 in donations, which she gave to her local food pantry in North Kingston. But now she’s back at it again, sewing pillowcases for the children at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
As a nurse, she has to juggle her time between sewing and caring for patients, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for anything else.
“All my stash. I’m down here from the minute I get home from work hahaha until wee hours of the night,” said Cayer.
As a sewer on a mission, she’s had to rely on donations from the community. “I still will find bags on my front doorstep of yarn or fabric, and I greatly appreciate it. Sewing is not cheap these days,” she said.
She’s been sewing for the kids since the fall and has already made over 200 pillowcases. She thinks of the young ones in need with every stitch.
“While I’m making the stuff, I’m hoping I’m sending good vibes with it to whoever gets these little treasures. I wish them well and hope it puts a smile on their face” Cayer added.
Each pillowcase is unique with a special embroidery pattern, so the kids have something to look at when they go to sleep at night. It also makes the hospital feel more like their room at home.
“They’re quick, they’re easy, and not every kid can get a quilt at the hospital — they could at least get a pillowcase,” said Cayer. “I wash all the fabric first. I make everything and then once everything is made, I wash everything again, steam press it and bag it, so it stays nice and clean.”
She’s enlisted her husband, who works at Lifespan, in the effort as well. He’s in charge of coordinating the drop-off with the hospital, so Cayer can focus on her work.
Having a handmade pillowcase in the hospital is no small thing. This small act of kindness can mean the world to the parents of sick children.
“I work as a pediatric nurse now doing home care and I sometimes see pillowcases or little quilts and stuff, and the moms tell me you know it seems like a little thing, but it means a lot to them that they know somebody cared and it makes it not so clinical,” Cayer explained.
Despite spending nearly all of her time and hundreds of hours sewing, she says the experience is all the reward she needs.
“It’s the best, it makes me feel really good, that’s why I continue to do it. I enjoy it, I thoroughly enjoy it,” Cayer said. “If anybody has any place that knows of a need, I will donate to whatever I’ll keep seeing and let me know who needs what.”
She added that she plans on doing this work for the rest of her life.