‘Mending Hearts:’ Volunteers sew pillows for heart patients

Mending Hearts volunteers Nancy Bonner and Beverly Nichols put the finishing touches on pillows for heart surgery patients at St. Vincent's on May 6. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

Mending Hearts volunteers Nancy Bonner and Beverly Nichols put the finishing touches on pillows for heart surgery patients at St. Vincent’s on May 6. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

MT LAUREL – Amelia Fore knows how much a pillow can mean to someone recovering from heart surgery.

Fore’s husband underwent open-heart surgery years ago, and during his recovery, was encouraged to cough regularly to keep his lungs clear. To protect his incision, he pressed a pillow against his abdomen when he coughed.

“The compression helps with the incision,” Fore explained.

Four years ago, Fore decided to start a ministry called “Mending Hearts” to provide handmade pillows for heart surgery patients at St. Vincent’s hospital in Birmingham.

“It’s just been a great mission,” Fore said.

Fore and her assistant Martha Thompson work with Madge Noland, who coordinates the women’s ministry at Double Oak Community Church in Mt Laurel, to hold monthly volunteer pillow-making sessions at the church.

Noland said the church provides money for materials for Mending Hearts pillows in its budget.

In addition, the ministry occasionally receives donations from former heart patients who received pillows.

Volunteers furnish sewing machines for each session.

About 15-20 volunteers meet the first Wednesday of every month at 9:30 a.m. at Double Oak to make the pillows, Fore said. The pillows are red with a white cross and the words “St. Vincent’s Hospital” embroidered at the top, with white rickrack to symbolize a heartbeat line.

The group delivers the pillows to the nurses at St. Vincent’s, who distribute them to the patients.

“I understand they just absolutely love them,” Fore said of the patients, adding the doctors and nurses sign their patients’ pillows.

Mending Hearts volunteer Sharon Hauser said patients develop emotional ties to their pillow during recovery.

“That pillow means a lot,” Hauser said. “The pillows are just really important.”

The group tries to provide at least 25-30 pillows every month, Fore said.

“We’re just so grateful for the blessing God has given us,” Fore said. “It has really grown. It’s just more than I’ve ever expected.”

For more information about volunteering or to make a donation to Mending Hearts, call Double Oak Community Church at 995-9752.