By Tess Malijenovsky
Barb Ferrier, a mother of an army captain, was inspired to start a unique program called Pillows for Patriots two years ago before her son left for a third tour of duty in the Middle East. “I knew he’d be calling me and saying, ‘Mom, can you send me a pillow and a set of sheets’,” Ferrier recalls.
Soldiers sent into combat are only issued plastic, blow-up pillows, and there usually aren’t stores or comfort items available for purchase abroad. Therein Ferrier noticed the need for pillows for soldiers in combat and asked her friends to help her make 150 pillows to send over.
John and Patrick Harris of the local family-owned business Harris Pillow Supply Co. donated the first 150 quality, durable pillows, and soon after the nonprofit program Pillows for Patriots was born.
There are no administrative costs to the program, which means that 100 percent of all donations are used to either buy pillows or ship them. The program has shipped more than 40,000 pillows to soldiers in combat zones already in its first two years.
“Without the continuous support of Harris Pillow Supply, this program would not be possible,” says Ferrier. “As part of their donation and their very generous support, they make the pillows at their manufacturing cost at $2.50 each.”
Ferrier is currently trying to raise $2,550 to send 850 men and women that belong to a Charleston-based, South Carolina guard unit, which would require no shipment cost. She receives pillow shipment requests over the Internet from all over the country and ships 25 pillows at a time to combat troops already in Afghanistan and Iraq, or to units recently deployed.
A simple comfort such as a decent pillow can easily be taken for granted, but it boosts soldier morale and provides a solid break from adrenaline. In a testimonial to the program, Semper Fidelis, Sgt. Maj. Kevin Williamson of the Second Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, said:
“Most of my Marines out here are living under in fairly austere environments and any small comfort item is always welcomed. As important as sleep is, the more comfortable I can make them, the better rested and attentive they will be while on patrol or guard duty.”
To help this program continue, donations can be made in the form of checks addressed to Pillows for Patriots, 1 Hermitage Pointe Beaufort, SC 29902. Visit www.pillowsforpatriots.org) to download a donation form or pillow shipment request form, or check out the Facebook page.
By Tess Malijenovsky