R&W Club Frederick Sews for Kids

Carolynne Keenan
Two women with pillowcases

Marsha Nelson-Duncan (left), Education Outreach specialist, Office of Scientific Operations (OSO), holds a sewn pillowcase, and Melissa Porter, administrative manager, OSO, displays a variety of fabrics that will be used during the R&W Club Frederick sewing party on Feb. 18.

By Carolynne Keenan, Contributing Writer

Sewing enthusiasts of all skill levels are invited to attend a sewing party hosted by the R&W Club Frederick on Feb. 18. Stop by the Building 549 Café Room between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to sew for a cause: help the club make pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer, a nonprofit organization that supports children in hospitals across the country.

Melissa Porter, administrative manager, Office of Scientific Operations, NCI at Frederick, and vice chair of the R&W Club Frederick, learned about ConKerr Cancer and its mission at a sewing expo in Baltimore. The organization provides fun, kid-friendly pillowcases to children in the hospital who are receiving treatments for cancer and other illnesses and injuries, explained Marcy Kelly, ConKerr Cancer chapter coordinator for Maryland and a volunteer with the organization.

“The pillowcases brighten their rooms, comfort them in times of discomfort, and make them feel special during a difficult time,” Kelly added.

After learning about ConKerr Cancer and its mission, Porter knew the R&W Club Frederick would want to get involved.

“The R&W Club Frederick is always looking for ways that we can give back,” Porter said. “Considering we are the National Cancer Institute, this seemed like a good fit to be able to contribute to a great organization that helps kids battling cancer.”

For the past year, Porter’s office in Building 427 has served as a collection point for pillowcases and supplies like fabric. At a recent meeting, the R&W Club Frederick Advisory Board discussed ways to get more involved with ConKerr Cancer, and the idea for the sewing party was born, Porter explained.

All employees are welcome to attend the party on Feb. 18. “This is a great opportunity to get a taste of sewing,” Porter said. Those who may not be comfortable sewing a whole pillowcase can help cut fabric and pin pieces together. The club also needs volunteers to iron completed pillowcases and place them in plastic zippered bags. The completed cases will be collected at the end of the party and donated to ConKerr Cancer.

Porter said high school students are able to earn one credit hour for each completed pillowcase.

“This is something simple and easy to do that really helps to brighten the faces of kids fighting cancer,” Porter said.

Pillowcase Collection Continues throughout the Year

Those not able to volunteer their time on Feb. 18 can still donate supplies and completed pillowcases throughout the year, as the R&W Club Frederick will continue to be a collection point for ConKerr Cancer. To donate pillowcases or other supplies, you can bring them to Melissa Porter’s office in Building 427, room 7. If you have questions about donating, contact Porter at porterm@mail.nih.gov.

This won’t be the only sewing party for ConKerr Cancer either, Porter said. The club may make this a regular or annual event.

“Making pillowcases is such a simple thing to do, yet it brings a bit of brightness and cheeriness to kids who have had and continue to have life-changing battles with illness,” Porter said. “Spending your break or part of your lunch to cut, pin, or sew a few pillowcases seems like such a tiny thing, but really has a big impact on a child.”

Kelly agreed and said she loves the creative ideas that groups come up with to help support ConKerr Cancer. “I’m a firm believer of giving back to the community,” she said. “The sewing party is an opportunity for people to come together and create something that is going to have a big impact on a sick child.”

For more information, visit the ConKerr Cancer website or Facebook page.