From the heart

In stepbrother's honor, local student launches hand warmer project to support brain injury research

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Cranston’s Edie Lacombe is hoping to warm hearts and hands this winter while raising money for brain injury research, and she’s already off to a great start.

The local elementary school student has a motivation that’s close to her own heart. Her stepbrother suffered a traumatic brain injury this past September and has been recovering in a Boston rehabilitation facility for months. It’s been a miraculous turnaround, as he was not initially expected to pull through.

Edie, who takes sewing lessons at Jerilyn’s Sewing School in Cranston, decided to sew her stepbrother a cushion to hold on to during his recovery. That thoughtful gesture led her to think about what she might do to help not only her stepbrother, but to support continuing research into traumatic brain injuries.

She approached Jerilyn Perry, owner and head teacher at the sewing school, asking if there was any way she could do a service project to help raise money for research. Perry readily agreed and added the community service night to her calendar and newsletter. Edie spread the word to her friends and family.

“Each week when [Edie] came in, she was always thinking what could she do,” Perry said. “When she asked about this, I said of course we could do it. We do so many community service projects here, it’s just second nature for us. It’s always for a good cause. It creates a positive atmosphere and everyone always feels so good about it.”

Edie dubbed her project Warm Hands, Warm Hearts, through which participants have made felt hand warmers filled with rice that can be heated in a microwave. She designed personalized labels for the hand warmers illustrating the connection to brain injury research, and Perry donated her time and all of the felt and sewing supplies.

In just under three hours, Edie and approximately 20 participants created 163 hand warmers.

“Jerilyn not only donated the supplies and her time, but she also made this an educational experience for the students,” said Edie’s mom, Angie. “She explained the concept of an assembly line and talked about how they worked and why they are in existence. The group was then split up into assembly line jobs. Some students were cutting the felt, some were sewing the hearts, some were stuffing the rice and others were ironing on labels.”

On her own, Edie could have only made a few hearts in that amount of time. She was amazed by how many were assembled in such a short time by the group.

“I loved that the kids were excited to be there,” she said. “Some of them I didn’t even know. My goal is to make 1,000 of them. Were going to need to set up another night.”

Edie is selling her hand warmers for a minimum donation of $5. She has already sold 185.

As Edie makes progress with her sales and donations, her brother is making progress as well, having just taken some steps with assistance.

“So often, we were told he wouldn’t make it,” Angie said. “Edie just wants to understand what’s happened and to do whatever she can to help.”

Anyone wishing to donate to Edie’s Warm Hands, Warm Hearts projects can send or drop off their donations to Jerilyn’s Sewing School, 254 East St., Cranston, RI 02920. Checks may be made out to Jerilyn’s Sewing School and will be forwarded to Edie’s fund for brain injury research.

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