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Family that sews together, makes pillowcase for a good cause

January 15, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - There's a lot of sewing going on at the Homan household.

And cancer patients, families of premature babies and wounded U.S. soldiers in Iraq are benefiting.

Loretta Homan retired from South Hagerstown High School as a consumer and family science teacher, and taught sewing for many years.

About a year ago, Homan discovered a project she believed her granddaughters would enjoy.

It's called the Benjamin Smiles project, named for 6-year-old Benjamin Mollett, who died of cancer in 1999. While Benjamin was being treated, his mother did a lot of sewing, and she made a quilt and pillow for her son.

Benjamin's mother, Vicki Mollett, discovered that a small pillow gives a sick child something to hold on to and can be a meaningful gift.

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And so started the Benjamin Smiles project, an effort to make as many of the small pillows as possible and distribute them to children in childhood cancer treatment hospitals throughout the country.

Homan and her two granddaughters, Emma and Jackie Speck, started making pillowcases last March. The girls picked out fabric for the pillowcases or themes for them, such as the ones that carry the "I Spy" name, named after the popular children's books.

Homan thought it would be an enjoyable project for her granddaughters, since it mostly involves sewing straight lines.

"It keeps them from watching TV all day," said Homan, who lives in the Willowdale subdivision along Shepherd Grade Road near Shepherdstown.

The girls and their grandmother have made 25 pillowcases, and more are on the way, they said.

"We'll make another 25 this winter," Homan said.

Their kindness has been spreading.

Emma Speck, 7, made two quilts for two U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq, and Homan is a member of the Hagerstown-based Friendship Quilters Guild, which has been involved in making quilts for premature babies in the Hagerstown area.

"We keep busy giving things away," Homan said.

Homan said some of her friends have been surprised that Homan allows her grandchildren to use her sewing machine. Jackie Speck is 5.

"It goes down to a pretty slow speed," Homan said of her sewing machine.

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