A group of Durham Coca-Cola employees rolled several large containers typically used for dispensing Coca-Cola or Powerade into the lobby of the N.C. Cancer Hospital, but not to deliver soft drinks. Rather, the containers were filled to the brim with more than 50 comfort pillows for cancer patients.
The handmade pillows were truly a labor of love. Inspired by a co-worker’s battle with breast cancer, employees at Durham Coca-Cola decided making pillows for a local hospital would be the perfect way for their organization to give back to the community. Several days a month during lunch, the sales conference room at the bottling facility was transformed into a pillow production area, with stations for sewing, cutting, stuffing and packaging.
“This has been such a wonderful project for us and generated great participation,” said Jean McGuire, executive secretary. “It was exciting to work together and to know that we might make a difference for someone dealing with cancer.”
Although initially intending only to make breast cancer pillows, they expanded the project to include a variety of pillow types and designs that could be used to provide support and comfort for people facing all types of cancer. Special care was taken to find fabrics with fun designs for children and Tar Heel logos for UNC fans.
Each pillow was carefully wrapped in plastic tied with ribbon and included a note that read: “Your comfort pillow is a hug stitched for you by caring hands at Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Company.” The pillows were delivered to the Patient and Family Resource Center and distributed to cancer patients throughout the hospital.
Robin Clause, sales and marketing director, said the volunteer project helped build camaraderie in the office and was a meaningful experience for many employees. “It was incredibly special to be able to do something together that will touch patients directly and let them know someone cares.”