Every Tuesday morning at North Suburban Medical Center, you can find a group of local women who gather for a weekly craft group where items like blankets, comfort pillows, baby hats, and more are made with love for the adults and children in care at North Suburban Medical Center.

The group of retirees come together as a group for two hours with all of their supplies and use the time to come together as a community and make gifts for patients in need.

“I just really enjoy coming here to visit and do good things for people,” said Irene Vigil, a volunteer in the craft group. “I can’t do much now that I am getting older, but I can do some small things to give back.”

Many of the women learned their crafts from family members and never thought that it would make much of a difference.

“I always liked crocheting, and I would make things for my house or friends, but this is so much better,” said Irene Coleman. “It keeps me young, and making these things does someone else some good too.”

A long time of caring

The craft group began more than 40 years ago and has been a staple of the volunteer services department at North Suburban since then.

Irene Coleman has been volunteering at North Suburban for 20 years. In addition to being the one of the longest-serving volunteers in North Suburban’s history, Coleman is also one of the most senior of the group. In May, she will be celebrating her 90th birthday. She alone has logged more than 14,000 volunteer hours over the course of her volunteer career at North Suburban.

Together, the craft group has logged 14,000 volunteer hours in 2018 alone and has made more than 3,700 items in 2019.

Homework too

In addition to the in-person time that they donate, many of the women also take their volunteer work home and make items at home with their own sewing machines.

Theresa Vigil creates handmade blankets with very detailed embroidery using her machine from home.

“I just really enjoy being active and being of use,” said Theresa Vigil. “I enjoy making things and adding them to the stacks and stacks of items for people here feels good.”

The work does not end when the group session ends, and all of the women take their materials back home and continue to work on the items as a single blanket can take 30 hours or more to complete.

Handmade and personalized

The craft group women also attach a small note to each item with their name noted on it.

“We’re never there when the patients receive these items, but it’s nice to sign the gift with your name,” said Denise Guerra. “Sometimes we will get a note back from the family who received our gift – and that’s always nice.”

Gifts that ease pain and suffering

A hospital stay is never a welcomed event and being far from home without your normal comforts can only make the stay more difficult.

A warm blanket and a hat for a newborn baby to make the trek home or a small heart-shaped pillow can make all the difference in the world to someone,” said Lorie Ward, manager of Volunteer Services at North Suburban.

Small heart-shaped pillows are also handmade by the group. The pillows are given to children at North Suburban, but are also given to adults who need a smaller pillow to aid in pain management. Patients use the pillows to place on their lower backs, across their abdomens, or under their arms to position themselves in a more comfortable position.

“The truly amazing thing about this group is that they not only donate their time and talents, but they also donate all of the materials needed to make the items,” said Lorie Ward, manager of Volunteer Services. “I am always just in awe of all they do for our patients at North Suburban.”

If you would like to help, the North Suburban Volunteer department does accept donations of new fabric, pillow fill and yarn to help the crafting group make the items. Please call (303) 450-4597 to see how you might help a North Suburban patient.