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‘Sew’ excited

Bloomingdale woman’s Amazing Grace Pillowcase project looks for community help

September 8, 2013
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Herald-Star community editor ( , The Herald-Star

Mary Albaugh is "sew" excited at the prospect of a project intended to brighten the lives of hospitalized children and bring them sweet dreams - one cheerful, colorful pillowcase at a time.

The Bloomingdale woman has created the cause Amazing Grace Pillowcase with a Facebook page by that name promoting the effort as well as an upcoming event - a sew-in.

That will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday at Eastern Gateway Community College's Pugliese Training Center located at 110 John Scott Highway, Steubenville, according to Albaugh, who anticipates the sew-in will be the first of many to come and hopes for help from the public to make it successful.

Article Photos

ON?A?MISSION — Making colorful, cheery standard-size pillow cases for distribution to hospitalized children is a passion project for Bloomingdale resident Mary Albaugh, whose recently established Facebook cause is Amazing Grace Pillowcase. Albaugh is organizing her first sew-in where the public can have an opportunity to assist. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday at Eastern Gateway Community College’s Pugliese Training Center located at 110 John Scott Highway, Steubenville.
-- Janice R. Kiaski

"If you don't sew, it's not a problem," said Albaugh, who explained there are many other ways people can come on board to assist in what she anticipates will be an assembly-line sew-in setup to produce standard-size pillowcases for distribution to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh as well as Tri-State Area hospitals. Pillowcases also will be made available to homeless shelters in Jefferson County.

While people who sew are appreciated, participants also can physically assist with cutting, pinning, folding and ironing, or they provide donations of fabric, sewn pillowcases made of 100 percent cotton or cotton flannel (there's a pattern on her Facebook page) or gallon-size zip-lock plastic bags as each pillowcase has to be washed, ironed and placed in one before delivery is made to hospitals.

Although Albaugh said she can't accept monetary donations, gifts cards from a fabric store, on the other hand, are welcomed.

Participants also can bring a sewing machine if they are able.

There will be refreshments and door prizes, according to Albaugh, who can be contacted by phone at (740) 944-1105; by e-mail at; or through the Facebook page. Gift card or fabric donations can be brought to the center or mailed to her at P.O. Box 133, Bloomingdale, OH 43910.

While the sew-in will be an opportunity to produce pillowcases, it also will be an environment in which to generate community awareness about the effort itself and how it came to be.

"I like to treat people the way I want to be treated, and I feel that everyone has a special gift," said Albaugh, who identifies her two-part motto as, one, follow your heart, and, two, "If you can do good today, do it now because you may never pass this way again."

A creative person, Albaugh always toyed with the idea of wanting to start her own business but the notion never advanced from the proverbial back-burner level.

About three years ago, she was sewing something for her now 5-year-old granddaughter, Karly Jean Otto in Cincinnati, when she came across a pattern for a pillowcase on

There she learned about the 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge, an effort to donate 1 million pillowcases to charities.

"I thought to myself I can do this," Albaugh said. "Then I thought again, I need to do this. You see these bright, colorful pillowcases brought a little sunshine to the children's (hospital) rooms," she said, explaining that "Sunshine" is what she called her granddaughter Karly when she was born.

Albaugh set a short-term goal of 25 pillowcases, then a long-term goal of 100. "Well, after 200 I needed to do more," she said. In her research of charities on the pillowcase challenge, she found That it's based in Cincinnati where her granddaughter lives gave the mission a meant-to-be feel.

"Pillows of Hope was my inspiration for Amazing Grace Pillowcase," said Albaugh, who met Katie, the founder of Pillows of Hope, and her inspiration for the website, Becca, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2.

"I got to know Katie and her wonderful mother Pam who helps with sewing and promoting Pillows of Hope," said Albaugh, who made a special pillowcase and headbands for Becca and who follows Becca's story through

"Then it hit me," Albaugh said of her realization not to have a business, but a purpose - to help ill children and their parents who are "hoping and praying for another day."

Albaugh launched Amazing Grace Pillowcase on April 30, selecting the name because it was her father's favorite hymn.

"I have my mind made up that I will become a nonprofit some day in God's time," said Albaugh, who has made more than 350 pillowcases in the past three years.

In addition to help from her husband, Tom, and other family in making pillowcases, she also had assistance from the Ridge Hoppers 4-H Club, she said.

The potential for pillowcase need is great, according to Albaugh, as last year Children's Hospital "took in 28,000 kids."

"It makes such a difference," she said for a child hospitalized to have a special pillowcase.

As of August, Amazing Grace Pillowcase also is making pillowcases for Wish Pillows -

Give Kids The World, located in Kissimmee, Fla., is a 70-acre nonprofit "storybook" resort located near central Florida's "most beloved attractions where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to a week-long, cost-free fantasy vacation," Albaugh said.

Anyone interested in helping with the Wish pillowcases, which are travel size, can contact Albaugh as they require a special pattern.

(Kiaski can be contacted at

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