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94-year-old Mesa woman picks up pandemic hobby, sews pillowcases for children in hospitals

Frances Chenoweth
Posted at 5:12 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 14:53:05-05

MESA, AZ — A 94-year-old Mesa woman found a way to stay busy and help others during the pandemic when she started volunteering for a nonprofit that sends colorful pillowcases to children at Valley hospitals battling cancer or other serious illnesses.

Frances Chenoweth has sewn 80 pillowcases in the past few months--they are all vibrant and fun colors.

"Because I needed something to do besides sit around the house," she said.

Her family was trying to find ways to keep her busy and safe during the pandemic. Her days are usually packed with activities.

"I do ceramics, and all of kinds of things and go to some of the plays and things here, but I haven't been many places," said Chenoweth.

They heard about Ryan's Case for Smiles, a nonprofit that started in 2007 that aims to comfort and support children in hospitals around the country. Volunteers buy the fabric and sew pillowcases.

"The best part of it is because I think I'm doing something constructive for someone else," said Chenoweth.

The Phoenix chapter has been around five and a half years. Volunteers have sewn and delivered more than 50,000 cases to several Valley hospitals including Phoenix Children's, Scottsdale Shea Medical Center, Banner Children's at Desert, Banner Children’s at Thunderbird Medical Center and Banner Ironwood Medical Center.

"It makes me feel really good, it does," said Chenoweth, fighting back tears.

Her daughters-in-law are now constantly on the lookout for new fabrics. Chenoweth's son cuts them up and gets them ready for the sewing. The family has enjoyed being a part of it.

"I think it's just fun to watch her grow and think 'You know I may be 94 but I can still do amazing things.' And she has. We're blown away by her," said daughter-in-law Sandy Wood.

Chenoweth said it's been fun and rewarding, and even if things start to open back up and she can get back to her activities she may keep sewing pillowcases.

Learn more about Ryan's Case for Smiles.