When a new resident checks in to Mary's Place, the emergency shelter for women and children operated by Lakes Crisis & Resource Center in Detroit Lakes, they often have little more than the clothes on their backs with them.

"We like to provide them with a new pillow when they come into the shelter," said LCRC Executive Director Anna Sellin. "They can take it with them when they leave."

With a maximum of 27 beds to fill, that means new pillows (and pillowcases) are a near-constant need for the shelter. So one day in early November, an LCRC staff member posted a message on the center's Facebook page, calling for pillow donations — and the Happy Hillside 4-H Club answered the call. Not only that, but they decided to make pillowcases too.

Though club members haven't been meeting in person due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, club leader Melanie Mitchell sent out a message asking members to participate in the service project. Those who said yes — about 18 in all — were then sent an instructional video that showed them how to make pillowcases with French seams, which means there were "no raw edges" of material to be found anywhere in the finished product, Mitchell explained.

Club members were also expected to provide their own material to make the pillowcases, she said. Last Wednesday, Dec. 16, the 4-H'ers and their parents came to LCRC to drop off their donations.

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"These are so gosh darn adorable!" exclaimed Sellin upon spotting the stacked pillows, in their cases — 26 in all.

"We had planned to make 15-20 pillowcases," Mitchell said. "We surpassed that goal."

"We were ecstatic when we heard the news," Sellin said, adding that the need for the pillows is "pretty immediate," and while they weren't expecting to get this many, the early Christmas gift was more than welcome.

"It's really special to be able to give them something that's homemade," she added.