Volunteers Fill Hearts-Pillows and Otherwise!
By Renee Burrell
Fill A Heart Group's July Marathon volunteers cut, stuffed, and sewed 200 pillows July 14th and 15th at the Powell Cancer Center to comfort and ease the pain of breast, underarm, and other cancer patients. Many of the volunteers are survivors or caregivers who find getting together and making the pillows to be therapeutic. Founder Laura A. Cordiviola surmises, "Not only are we literally filling heart pillows, we are filling hearts emotionally."
In 2007 Laura Cordiviola helped out a neighbor who needed a ride to the hospital to visit her daughter who was undergoing breast cancer surgery. That good deed resulted in thousands more.
Cordiviola explained, "When my neighbor's daughter awoke in recovery she found a heart shaped pillow under her arm. It kept her arm away from the wound and kept her drain tube in place. The recovery nurse came in and my neighbor's daughter thanked her for it. The nurse said it was the last one they had to give then looked at Cordiviola and asked if she sewed. The response from Cordiviola was, 'I do now.'"
The need and heartfelt appreciation for the pillows grew, prompting Cordiviola to start her own non-profit. The Fill A Heart Group, Inc. provides the soft, handmade pillows at no cost to recipients. The group's brochure clarifies that, "Though our pillows are made specifically for breast cancer patients, our programs are designed to be a community outreach project and support network for anyone touched by cancer…we reach out to cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and anyone in the community who would like to become involved in creating something meaningful for others. In this way both the receiving and the making of the pillows provide support for those affected by cancer."
The heart pillows are dispersed to area hospitals and clinics and come with a touching poem written by Cordiviola's niece, Kasi:
Fill a heart that's what we doPeggie, a survivor, wrote, "The breast pillows are more than just pillows, they are tangible symbols that someone cares and they truly become a cherished memory during a horrible chapter in these women's lives."
Volunteers get together for the pillow making monthly and hold quarterly marathon events. The next is a "Fill A Heart with Hope Day", August 11 from 10 am -2 pm at the Morton Plant Hospital Powell Cancer Center Community Room, 303 Pinellas Street, Clearwater. Cancer patients, survivors, family, friends and the community are invited to work at the 'open house' style/stay as long as you like event. Bottled water and snacks are provided. To register, phone (727) 953-6857.
Present and future volunteers of the Fill A Heart Group are saving the date for a special night of fun and shopping when they attend 'Girls Night -The Musical' November 13, 7:30pm at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Girls Night - The Musical offers to, "Share the fun and laughter of this hilarious, feel-good comedy as five girlfriends (to whom we can all relate) go from heartbreak to happiness during a wild night of karaoke. Grab your sisters, friends and co-workers, and prepare to dance in the aisles to Lady Marmalade, It's Raining Men, and Man, I Feel Like a Woman!"
Tickets go on sale to the public in August. For ticket information phone (727) 791-7400 or visit RuthEckerdHall.com or Ticketmaster.com.
The Fill A Heart Group, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. For more information visit their website: www.FillAHeart.org or phone727-247-8498.
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