The Emerald Coast Does Better

A Do Better Background
After running the St. Louis chapter for several years and having the opportunity to head 5 large Do Better events, I knew when I started the Emerald Coast chapter that charity was going to be a factor in the new group. In the midst of the joys of geekery, camaraderie, heated debates, and endless laughter, we try to look around and see where we can help those in need. How can we use our talents, our love of individuality, and our resources to be there for others?

The Puzzle
As fate would have it (and Facebook suggestions abounding), I came across a post about a “One Million Pillowcases” challenge that urged sewing circles, quilting guilds, and individuals to make a pillowcase (or a dozen) to donate to their local women’s shelter, foster home, or hospital. BINGO! I knew *I* wanted to participate in that! Who would have thought that a simple handmade pillowcase could be the touch of home and love that a child might need? Or a woman escaping and receiving a lovingly made piece of linen that wasn’t stark white and institutional?

Now (again with fate on my side) I am lucky enough to run a chapter teeming with seamstresses who are at the ready with fabric (oh my goodness, so much fabric!), machines, scissors, thread, and tons of patience!

The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when one of our officers suggested we donate our handcrafted pillowcases to the Ronald McDonald House Charity located in Pensacola. In case you don’t know what the RMHC’s are, they are houses set up in conjunction with local pediatric hospitals where families can stay while their children are in the hospital. Many times, families will arrive with only the clothes on their backs after having rushed through the trauma of hospitalizing their child. RMHC provides these families with rooms, food, clothing, entertainment – just like they would have at home – but within reach of their sick child.

So we called up the Northwest Florida RMHC to ask them if they thought the families staying with them would enjoy one-of-a-kind pillowcases to add another element of home. They were ecstatic to hear our offer, and we were glad to finally have something to sew!

We Begin
We picked a donation month that would give us plenty of time to have several sewing get-togethers and then we got to work. Our first meeting immediately shocked us with the generosity of one of our brunchettes who donated an estimated 650 dollars worth of fabric! We’re talking Star Wars patterns, unicorns, Disney, beautiful flowers, giraffes, bowties, and more! (We miss you so much Jill!!)

After spending many hours sorting through patterns, matching colors, cutting strips, and folding fabric bundles, we were ready to sew! Over the course of the next few months, we held four sewing guilds that had our four seamstresses sewing little burritos out of our fabric bundles (follow this Burrito Pillowcase Pattern to see how we made all of ours).

Did I mention that we even had a real tea party during one of our sewing guild gatherings? Member Charmaine went all out dazzling us with scones, clotted cream, sandwiches, jams, and of course, tea!  (Check out her page at Charmaine’s British Bakes.)

As our fabric bundle pile got smaller and our completed pillowcase pile got bigger, I couldn’t help but smile at the dedication these ladies were giving. Here they were, spending an evening away from their families to sew (and cut, and iron, and fold) for complete strangers. Then I started to wonder just how many pillowcases we were going to be able to deliver. SIXTY-FIVE!! After all of our gatherings, and the final fold was complete, we ended up with sixty-five completely unique pillowcases!

The Brunch
We held our Pillowcase Do Better brunch cloaked in the theme of Disney on July 19. We started the day by meeting at the Ronald McDonald House to present the house with all of our handmade linens. We were taken on a tour of the home that has several common areas, a huge kitchen, private rooms, a closet full of games, a computer nook, and a courtyard shaded by some lovely trees.

After taking pictures with the Ronald McDonald who so faithfully sits outside the front doors, we headed off to brunch at My Favorite Things. Eggs, pancakes, waffles, and even a milkshake or two adorned the tables as we laughed about the Disney costumes we wore out in public: we were graced with Captain Hook, Jasmine, Ariel, Stitch, and Edna Mode! There were three raffle prizes to be won, Disney themed dry erase boards made by me which came out perfect if I can say so myself!

Until next time!  LLAP – Officer Casey

PS – I want to give an extra shout out to Jill for donating almost all of the fabric and sewing like a champ, Joanna for becoming our expert burrito seamstress, and Ashley for faithfully sewing tons of French seams!

PPS – Sorry this entry is a bit longer than usual!  I really didn’t want to leave anything out and I’m so proud of all the hard work my chapter did!

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