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Service Project Hands Out Thousands Of Comfort Pillows For Patients

Reported by: Send eMail Darrah Wilcox
Web Producer: Darrah Wilcox
Reported: Nov. 28, 2013 1:48 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 28, 2013 10:47 PM EST

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Animals For Smiles
Eyewitness News Photo

Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia

Jill Ritterspach said visiting a hospital for an emergency or extended stay can often be scary, especially for children.

"Can you imagine how scared you are when you go to the hospital and you don't know what you're facing, the unknown?" she said.

Alden Jones, 6, knows how scary it can be. She recently stayed at Hoops Family Children Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital to help manage a chronic condition. While it was scary, there was a something special that made her smile during the stay.

"It was a turkey," Jones said.

A stuffed turkey, that is. Not the kind that's likely the centerpiece of your table today, but a fluffy little pillow.

Jones decided to join the Kids of the Kingdom group at Full Gospel Assembly church to help other sick kids and patients. The group stuffed nearly a hundred of the colorful, animal-shaped pillows.

They are called Animals For Smiles, and it was a former project that got resurrected earlier this year. A small group of women from Milton Baptist Church does each pillow by hand. They've made and delivered about 4,000 to patients at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

"The demand is always there," Ritterspach said. "The supply is not, but we try to do and make what we can with what few ladies that are doing."

That means they are grateful for groups like the Kids of the Kingdom for helping.

Volunteer Destiny Jones said she loves being able to help stuff the animals. She said she hopes to bring happiness to any patient who receives on at the hospital.

"They're very sick and wondering what's coming and we're helping them feel better by making them animal sand making it very soft so they can hug on them," she said.

Animals For Smiles was named the project of the year for 2013 at Cabell Huntington Hospital, and they were also awarded the non-fundraising project of the year by the Auxiliary of the West Virginia Hospital Association.

They are giving back and giving thanks for the little things that can bring big smiles.

If you our a group wants to help the Animals For Smiles, you can call Jill Ritterspach at 304-743-5131.



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