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SH residents make heart pillows for refugee Ukrainian children – Herald Palladium

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Partly cloudy. High 59F. Winds SE at 10 to 20 mph..
Scattered thunderstorms developing late. Low near 50F. Winds SSE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Updated: April 10, 2022 @ 3:35 pm
Volunteer crafters from Simpson United Methodist Church in Bangor are shown with the heart-shaped pillows they made for refugee children from Ukraine, now reside in Poland.
South Haven resident and artist Luann Harden is shown with several of the many handmade heart-pillows that she, along with other knitters and sewers from the South Haven area have made for distribution to refugee Ukrainian children now residing with their families in Poland.

Volunteer crafters from Simpson United Methodist Church in Bangor are shown with the heart-shaped pillows they made for refugee children from Ukraine, now reside in Poland.
South Haven resident and artist Luann Harden is shown with several of the many handmade heart-pillows that she, along with other knitters and sewers from the South Haven area have made for distribution to refugee Ukrainian children now residing with their families in Poland.
South Haven area residents concerned about the plight of refugee Ukrainian families turned their thoughts into action this month by making heart-shaped pillows for children who are now finding refuge in neighboring Poland.
The idea for the pillow-making project originated with South Haven resident and artist Luann Smidt Harden, who has several relatives who live in Poland. When the Ukrainian War started she wanted to do something to help refugee children whose families were trying to escape to neighboring countries, such as Poland.
Intrigued with small, heart-shaped pillows her grandchildren had received as a gift from her husband’s cousin, Peggy Sue Harden, Luann got an idea.
“My mom’s parents, Bruno and Mary Staszak, each individually immigrated from Poland and met in Chicago,” Harden said. “The Polish heritage was very strong within my family growing up. There was always love, laughter and food around my Bushia’s table.
“As I watched the pictures of Ukrainian mothers and children fleeing Ukraine, I couldn’t keep the tears back. As I talked with others they were feeling the same way. I had to do something and I knew it wasn’t the time to be there.”
The heart-shaped pillows Harden’s grandchildren had received gave her an idea of how she could help.
“She said to tell them when they hug them they are getting hugs from their loved ones,” Harden related. “It just clicked that we needed to do this too for the Ukrainian children.”
So Harden began contacting her Polish relatives.
“We have a Catholic priest in the family who is in Warsaw, and cousins who live on the west side of Poland,” Harden said. “They’ve talked about taking people into their homes. One cousin said her community was opening a gym for refugees.”
One of her cousin’s daughters helped connect Harden to Matplaneta, an organization that works with schools and children in Poland. The organization agreed to give pillows to Ukrainian families and their children.
To drum up volunteer support for making the pillows, Harden turned to friends and social media in March. It didn’t take long for people to respond, including a group of sewers at Simpson United Methodist Church in Bangor.
“They found a three-pattern design and jumped right in,” Harden said. “They got material and started sewing. They had a production line going.”
The sewers – consisting of the Mask Makers and Needles of Love groups – were quite familiar with large sewing projects. During the pandemic the Mask Makers made face masks for people to wear, while the Needles of Love group’s mission has been devoted to knitted hats, scarves and mittens, along with other clothing, for people in need.
With the help of the sewing group from Simpson Church and other volunteers, Harden ended up with several hundred cloth and knitted heart-shaped pillows to send to refugee children who are now attending school in Poland.
“We currently have sent over 250 and have probably another 200 being completed,” she said. “But, we found that each shipment will cost over $200. We have had some donations come in to help. But truly, everyone would continue making if we had more donations for shipping.”
People interested in helping with the pillow-making project or contributing funds for shipping can email Harden at luann.harden@gmail.com
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2021

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