Saturday, December 6, 2008

Group makes pillows to soften patients' lives

Telegram Staff Writer

Here an oink, there an oink, everywhere an oink, oink.
The ladies of Soft Touch Ministry at Belton Church of Christ make pig pillows.
If you stand one on its feet, the pig looks like it's walking. The snout leads the way, and the tail wags behind.
'But when you lay it down, it becomes a neck pillow,' said Georgia Seals, the ministry coordinator. Its stomach becomes support for your head, and the two legs rest the shoulder.
This Tuesday the Belton seamstresses delivered 175 of them to Scott & White for distribution among cancer patients.
Chaplains from Lifeline Chaplaincy, the statewide parent group of the Soft Touch Ministry, will be making the deliveries.
'The pillows are great gift items,' said Tom Nuckels, director of spiritual care for Lifeline's Austin-area branch. 'No matter how old they are, people always smile when they get them. And they're useful too.'
Nuckels said he's received several thank-you cards for them.
'Those pillows never get left behind,' Nuckels said. 'People use them on the car ride home from the hospital.' The pig pillows aren't the only comfort items Soft Touch provides.
'We also make small square pillows and Ouch Buddies,' Ms. Seals said.
The Ouch Buddy is a grinning doll in the shape of a summer sausage.
It comes with a note that says, 'I am your Ouch Buddy. When something hurts, squeeze me.'
The item's rather popular among the recipients.
'It started out as an item for children,' Nuckels said. 'We'd tell them the Ouch would go right through them and into the Buddy. But the concept caught on with the adults, and soon it became a favorite for everyone.'
Mary Lee Truitt of Temple attests to the value of a good Ouch Buddy. 'It's good that my husband (John) has one,' Mrs. Truitt said. 'He's paralyzed on his left side, but he's starting to regain some strength. So to exercise his muscles, he started squeezing the doll. The doctor said it was a great thing for him.'
The gift recipients aren ¹t the only ones who benefit from Soft Touch Ministry. The people who make the items say they derive just as much joy.
'It's a worthwhile thing to do,' Ms. Seals said. 'It makes you feel good because you ¹re doing something that gives comfort to people.'
Carol Thompson and Kay Taliaferro agreed.
'It's a way I can be a part of Lifeline Chaplaincy,' Ms. Thompson said. 'This takes advantage of my talents and fits what I can do to help.'
'And it's a good excuse to visit and have fun,' Ms. Taliaferro said.
Nuckels is thrilled with the enthusiasm from the Soft Touch group at Belton Church of Christ.
This is the first year for Lifeline's services to be available for patients in Central Texas hospitals. The Houston-based Chaplaincy started on a volunteer basis in 1983 - but in the last 25 years, it has grown large enough to sustain professional staff and offices in Austin and Dallas.
Much of the Chaplaincy's success, Nuckels said, is result of the time and effort of people like Ms. Seals and her comrades. They've been making pillows since September.
'These ladies volunteer so much of their time,' Nuckels said. 'We've got five cities in Central Texas helping us with this project. 'It means a lot. People are overjoyed when we deliver the pillows. It makes a lot of smiles.'

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