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Ascension Via Christi volunteer sewing group provides soft touches to hard times

Ascension Via Christi, Partners in Caring volunteers are making small mats for hospitalized behavioral health patients.

But they are no ordinary placemats or lap mats, as each one is covered in pockets, with mystery items inside soft, touchable pouches.

The Sewing 101 group that crafts each one have nicknamed them “activity mats.”

Each is stuffed with recycled items – medicine bottle caps, marbles, washers, old keys and other small items – and serves as a distraction during treatment, downtime activities or as comfort items that are especially helpful to patients with ADD, anxiety, mania, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“They help keep patients’ brains and hands busy instead of pulling at tubes or becoming bored and frustrated in their rooms,” says Linda Garrison, who leads the dozen nimble-fingered regular contributors. They meet the second Wednesday of every month to create the blankets, along with a variety of other items for adult and pediatric patients, such as walker bags, bibs, beanies, flannel-lined lap quilts, swaddling blankets, colorful pillowcases and special holiday-themed gift pouches for newborns. “We try to create items that provide a sense of home at the hospital,” says Garrison. “We love making things families and patients can cherish as keepsakes for good memories.”

The staff also appreciate the volunteers’ contribution to the care they provide. “Some patients that have dementia and no verbal skills find the items to be calming to them,” says Jolene Boswell, a registered nurse who provides care in Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph’s senior Behavioral Health unit. “There’s something that comes back mentally with items like these and it’s comforting to patients.”

Group member Shirley Cooper, who recently has begun volunteering after volunteering at Ascension Via Christi St. Teresa’s front desk, loves spending time with the group. “It gives me great joy to have something to do with new friends and to give back to our hospital patients who need it during their most vulnerable times.”

For more information on the Sewing 101 group, email Linda Garrison at or call 316-733-5908. For more information about Behavioral Health services, go to

About Taylor Valdez

Curly hair with straight priorities. Dedicated workaholic and weekend adventurer. When I'm not writing or working, I'm shopping, chowing down on local bites or binging Netflix.