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FBC Tuscaloosa comforts child cancer patients with pillowcasescomment (0)

June 14, 2007

By Sammie Jo Barstow

Sweet dreams!"

For many people, that’s a way of saying good night, but for women at First Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, it is how they show God’s love to children battling cancer at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

The Sweet Dreams ministry began in 2005, when church member Michelle Dye, 10, was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Shortly after Michelle’s diagnosis, her friend Rebecca Fitzgerald received a sewing machine for Christmas and with it, a simple pattern for a pillowcase.

Knowing that Michelle was due for a chemotherapy treatment at Children’s Hospital, Rebecca’s mother made a pillowcase from flowered fabric for Michelle to use during her hospital stay.

According to Michelle’s mother, Cathy, Michelle was thrilled to receive the pillowcase because it was a bright, cheerful addition to her drab hospital surroundings.

The pillowcase made Michelle feel special, Cathy Dye said, and she wanted one for a friend who was also a cancer patient.

Soon all the children in the cancer ward wanted a pillowcase for their hospital stay and Sweet Dreams was born.

Now more than 40 women and girls meet quarterly for "pillowcase parties," bringing their sewing machines to the Tuscaloosa Baptist Association church’s fellowship hall for a day of cutting, stitching and ironing.

Older women work alongside preteens, teens and younger women who are learning to sew.

Those who don’t have a sewing machine or don’t sew participate by cutting fabric, ironing completed pillowcases and packaging them for delivery.

At the end of the day, approximately 100 colorful pillowcases have been produced and are ready to be delivered.

"Sweet Dreams is one of the most unique and meaningful services of our First Ladies Ministry," said Pastor Gil McKee.

"Through something as simple as pillowcases, our ladies have found a way to share Christ’s love with those kids (at the hospital) and their families — and that’s what it’s all about."

Several women sew pillowcases between the quarterly meetings to stay ahead of the demand, and some who cannot participate in the pillowcase parties donate fabric or money to buy fabric.

One sorority at the University of Alabama, Delta Zeta, also has contributed fabric.

Fabric designs range from flowers, ballerinas and fairies for the girls to trucks, cowboys and sports for the boys.

Because the main mission of Sweet Dreams is to assure children and their families of God’s peace and protection, each pillowcase comes with a card with the theme verse for the ministry, Psalm 4:8: "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

The group coordinates delivery with the hospital’s child life specialists and is allowed to go to each room, visiting with the family and letting the child choose a pillowcase.

Among those delivering pillowcases are Michelle, who has been free of cancer for nine months, and her mother.

Cathy Dye said participating in the ministry has helped Michelle make many new friends and understand the different things other children go through during their illness.

According to Linda Humber, director of the First Ladies Ministry, "This is a demonstration of how God can take an idea of a kindness intended for one person and multiply it to touch hundreds of other people."

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