Athens’ FCCLA is Donating handmade Port Pillows to WakeMed


Photos by Jacquelyn Berg

Julia Magnanini, FCCLA co-president, sewing fabric together to create a port pillow. Provided by Jacquelyn Berg, FCCLA adviser.

Milin Santizo-Escobar, Online Photography Editor

Athens’ Family, Career and Community Leaders of America club (FCCLA) is making port pillows to donate to WakeMed. FCCLA is a non-profit national career and technical student organization. Its mission is to promote leadership development and personal growth by providing opportunities for assuming responsibilities.

Port pillows are small cushions that are built to cover a portacath, which is a medical tool that is placed into the chest of a cancer patient to allow easier access to a person’s veins. Port pillows are built to reduce any irritation and discomfort a patient feels when wearing a seatbelt for a prolonged time.

FCCLA members have been encouraged to bring in donations such as fabric, poly fill and velcro for donation hours. Various members have stayed after school in order to help sew and create the port pillows.

“I love all the cute designs we are making, as well as the fact that they are going to people who are battling cancer. I think that they are really useful and can make such a challenging time in those people lives a little bit easier,” said Julia Magnanini, co president of FCCLA.

FCCLA has completed a number of projects around the community, and have previously made over 85 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Blankets for WakeMed. Neonatal blankets are created to provide comfort for parents with babies in the Intensive Care Unit, which require critical medical care. Parents sleep with the blankets before placing them with their newborn babies.

“I love that we are donating all of these items, because if someone were to order one it would probably cost a lot more than it should. I enjoy sewing and making things, so I enjoy doing stuff like this,” said Magnanini.

Athens FCCLA is sponsored by Cathy Beavers, Foods Ⅰ and Ⅱ teacher, and Jacquelyn Berg, Apparel and Interior Design teacher.

“It makes everyone smile and feel great about themselves. The people receiving the donations smile, and the people giving the donations smile as well,” said Berg.

Berg’s Apparel II class has also helped FCCLA projects, by cutting fabric and stuffing the port pillows with the poly fill.

“Apparel II started the prenatal blankets and spent a whole day utilizing rotary cutters to cut fabrics and prep materials to sew. When I mentioned the blankets to my class, they were all in for it. They were excited for this project,” said Berg.

Magnanini plans for FCCLA to make beaded dog toys for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Wake County.

“I thought this would be a great idea as you don’t need to sew to know how to make it, and it incorporates into the animal science part of our magnet theme,” said Magnanini.

FCCLA plans to have a day where members will be able to help braid and cut out the fabric used for the toys. To create the toys, three pieces of fabric are cut and braided like hair, where they will be tied at each end. Each toy will be then be given to a pup in need.

“What I like about volunteer service projects is that students learn the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Students get to learn that you can be rewarded by knowing you’re helping someone and not with an actual trophy or ribbon,” said Berg.