Sometimes, feeling at home can be as simple as having your favorite pillow with you. For the team at Ryan's Case for Smiles, bringing this small comfort to children in hospital care can mean the world. That's why the Pennsylvania-based non-profit is on a mission to gift children in need handmade pillowcases—featuring everything from cartoon characters and candies, to pink and purple puppies and color-popping patterns—in hopes of brightening their days.
The organization, which was founded in 2007 was inspired by Ryan Kerr, who began battling cancer at the age of 12. "Ryan's sickness never slowed him down from living the active and adventurous life he loved," the site reads. "Ryan saw beauty in everyone and everything…he lived his life with such joy and courage that he inspired thousands of people in our community and around the country." Wanting to bring that same joy to other children battling illnesses, Ryan's mom, Cindy, created Ryan's Case for Smiles.
To date, the organization has delivered over 1,700,000 pillowcase to nearly 362 hospitals worldwide thanks to the hard work of thousands of volunteers—and you could help! The team at Ryan's Case for Smiles is always looking for more donations.
While pillowcases donations are accepted year round, there are a few things to consider before you start stitching. Novelty prints of all kinds are welcome (the more fun, the better!), however the organization asks for only 100 percent cotton fabrics and no fabrics with any kind of glitter. If you're unsure about a certain fabric or print (only some hospitals will accept flannel while many others have restrictions on holiday-themed designs), you can reach out to your local branch coordinator. Once you've selected your fabric, be sure to wash it before sewing, avoiding any scented detergents or dryer sheets; then, iron the finished product and place into a clean, resealable plastic baggie. For a complete list of guidelines, click here.
Have a crew of especially crafty friends? Consider hosting an event where everyone can craft for a cause. And if needle and thread aren't your area of expertise, the charity also accepts monetary donations to help cover material costs.
Feeling inspired? Watch how to make your own sewing kit in a jar: