Community Papers

Helping MCC, one handmade pillow at a time

Hilda Isaac, 92, has made 700 pillows to raise money for the Mennonite Central Committee.  - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Hilda Isaac, 92, has made 700 pillows to raise money for the Mennonite Central Committee.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Hilda Isaac is a firecracker.

Being constantly busy with gardening, reading, quilting, sewing, knitting and crocheting, the 92-year-old has as much energy as someone almost half her age.

And even though she had open heart surgery four years ago, that didn't slow her down. In fact, she became even busier.

Shortly after Hilda had her surgery, she started make pillows.

Lots of pillows.

Nearly 700 pillows to date.

"I used to have a little business of my own called Hilda's Hobbies," she says. "I had piles of material that had been lying around for a while not being used, and that's where it all started."

So she began snipping and stuffing and sewing.

First, Hilda makes plain white pillows, and then she makes colourful and artistic pillow covers to fit each one. She never has just one pillow on the go at once.

She uses donated scrap fabric for the pillow cases and covers. She gets the material from friends, fellow parishioners from Eden Mennonite Church, and donated fabric that shows up at Chilliwack MCC Thrift Shop, and the local Bibles for Missions thrift stores.

The stuffing for the pillows comes from her quilting group. The large rolls of batting (insulating material used in quilts) that they use are too wide for the quilts, so the remaining strips are given to Hilda.

The excess batting used to be tossed in the garbage.

"I thought it was too terrible for all of that to go the landfill," she says. "I thought we can't do that. Why should this go into the landfill when something can be done with it."

Her 95-year-old husband, John, helps by cutting up all the batting to be used as stuffing.

"John cuts the pieces up into small pieces, and it looks like a cloud when I fill them," Hilda says.

Not only are her pillows made entirely of reused items, but they're for a good cause.

She donates her pillows to local fundraiser and to care groups for children. She also sells them.

"They're $2 each, or $3 for the fancier ones."

All of the money raised goes back to the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

Some of her pillows are even used as packaging. When Eden church fills a shipping container with hand-made quilts to be sent overseas to hospitals and orphanages in the Ukraine, Hilda's pillows are used to fill in all the gaps so that every square inch of the shipping container is packed full.

Rest assured her pillows are of the best quality. Hilda used to make a living as a professional seamstress.

"I feel so privileged at my age — when so many of my friends are helpless, and the Lord has given me this particular skill — that I can still contribute to something good other than myself."

Although Hilda's vision has deteriorated over the years, it doesn't stop her.

"I feel, at 92, who can do that? Every now and then I think this is going to be the last batch, but then I get a nice batch of fabric and I have to make something out of it," she says.

photo@theprogress.com
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