HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Recess is considered a period to relax and play at most schools, but for some students at Collegiate School in Henrico’s West End, recess is just a stitch in time. For the middle-school students who take part in the student-run SEW for SOS group, spools are cool. The students create small pillows with a purpose. Luke Tyson, 13, hatched the SEW for SOS plan last year when he found himself in the dumps with a broken arm and facing surgery.
"For the first few weeks after my injury I would wallow and feel sorry for myself. But as cheesy as it may sound, I discovered that moping isn’t going to get me anywhere," Tyson said. It was then he decided he wanted to create pillows with uplifting and personalized notes stuffed inside.
"Ever since we founded it last March we’ve sewn over 700 pillows," Tyson said. "Each student can write something personal, something positive. We want you to know what struggles you are going through and that we are with you 100 percent and we get through it."
The fabric used for the pillows is paid for through donations. The pillows are delivered to cancer patients, deployed soldiers and others who may need a boost. Tyson's pillow pursuit has caught on.
"It makes me feel like I’m using my time in a good way and paying it forward to someone who needs it," 7th grade student Johnny White said.
"Sometimes we’ve had 50 kids in there sewing," librarian Carolyn LaMontagne added. "They are getting a chance to be with their friends and make a difference. It is kind of a brilliant combination. You know it gives people hope for the future and you know someone in the world cares."
The pillows are shipped around the globe to people in need of a lift. For some, the plush gift arrive at just the right moment.
"It will brighten up your day. It is a great feeling,” Jen Eisenmann who lives with cystic fibrosis, said after a SEW for SOS pillow arrived in her mailbox. "These kids heard that I was in the hospital. It made my day. Made my week."
Eisenmann, who lives in South Carolina, said she would cherish her pick-me-up pillow forever.
"I don’t know. I am a little emotional. It is beautiful what these kids have done and what they are doing," she said.
Luke Tyson said SEW for SOS was started to spread good cheer, one stuffed smile at a time. It's what binds these students together. Boys and girls who share a common thread.
"There is nothing better than that," Tyson said. "All I know is that I’m helping people so I’m going to roll with it."
Greg McQuade and CBS 6 News are featuring local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email firstname.lastname@example.org.