Third-graders, seniors stitch pillows, friendshipsShelley Raiola said her daughter, Alyssa, is a sophomore in college and still has the T-shirt pillow that she made in third grade with her “grandparent” for the day.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
Shelley Raiola said her daughter, Alyssa, is a sophomore in college and still has the T-shirt pillow that she made in third grade with her “grandparent” for the day.
Raiola coordinates Project GO (Grandparents Organized) for School District 833 that matches up senior citizens with third-graders to sew the pillow projects.
Those who organized the program 40 years ago wanted to give children, who might not live near grandparents, a chance to get to know older people and share their experiences.
Every child who passed through the district in the past 40 years made a pillow with a senior.
“The teachers are so supportive,” Raiola said. “Kids who have an older sibling in the district are especially excited to make a pillow.”
It takes one case of polyester batting per classroom to fill the T-shirts that kids bring from home to convert to pillows.
Grandparent volunteers visit nine classrooms a week and cover all 14 elementary schools.
Children sew the bottom of the shirt with a needle that they thread themselves. They stuff the pillows and sew up the neck to finish the projects.
Leida Pommerening got involved with Project GO when her grandson was in third grade. She participates every week. “I love it,” she said, “but, then, I did daycare for 30 years.”
Verona Storbakken, who has been with Project GO for nine years, told Cottage Grove Elementary School third-grader Manzi Kadoma that she went to a one-room school in North Dakota when she was his age.
“The whole school wasn’t as big as your room,” Storbakken said, as she showed Kadoma how to correct a stitch that went wrong.
“We used to bake potatoes on top of a potbelly stove so they would be done by lunchtime,” she told him.
Third-grader Ava Rhode had Florence Severson as her grandparent at Cottage Grove Elementary School on Feb. 2.
“I really like it,” Rhode said. I’ve been waiting for it since kindergarten. My aunt is in the fifth grade and she made one.”
Rhode made her pillow with an orange T-shirt. She’ll put it in her room when her family moves into a new house later this month so it will fit with the Hawaiian theme.
“Orange is a very Hawaiian color,” she said.