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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Mauna Cowan at Parkview Home Health and Hospice holds bears made using a Simplicity pattern.

Hospice welcomes handmade comforts

Well, the ideas keep pouring in for local opportunities to craft for charity.

A few weeks ago, I talked to Tammy Else from Lutheran Children’s Hospital about how crafters can help out patients there. This week, I talk to Mauna Cowan, volunteer coordinator at Parkview Home Health and Hospice.

I had gotten wind that the hospice was in need of laprobes, which are small, square blankets that can keep a patient’s lower body warm while not interfering with the wheels on a wheelchair. Turns out, that isn’t the hospice’s only need.

Cowan tells great stories about patients receiving handmade bears and recalling a time in their life when they had a bear they loved.

Or, about the male patient who was happy to receive a handmade gown in manly prints because it meant he’d no longer have to wear his wife’s gowns.

Having personal experience with the concept of hospice, I know it’s about making sure people with a terminal illness live out their remaining days with dignity. Cowan views hospice not as about dying but as about living until the end.

“Mainly, we just want people to know that what they give us, we use,” she said, reluctant to set any guidelines for what items can or should be donated.

The hospice uses a specific Simplicity pattern for the bears, which have been made as small as pocket-sized toys and as large as 18 inches tall.

And although there is a need for laprobes, any sort of handmade blanket that gets donated gets used, Cowan said.

“If it’s smaller and square, it’s a laprobe. If it’s long and narrow, it’s a comfort shawl,” she said, explaining the many needs that hospice patients have.

The hospice home uses items for in-patients who are in crisis care and need their rooms to feel homier and more comfortable.

Those who make items for the hospice are known as hospice helpers.

It all started about 10 years ago when a man in a nursing home sent a note through a nurse that said, “Life is better if you have something to do. Do you have something I can do?” the note asked, according to Cowan.

Because volunteering with hospice patients and families is so intense, it requires training.

But the hospice helpers program allows people to lend a hand without the training, she said. Whether it’s a group or an individual person, Cowan said she’s grateful for all the help they can get.

Laprobes, gowns, bears and more – there is a great deal of need at the hospice.

If you are interested in providing handmade goods to Parkview Home Health and Hospice, call Cowan at 373-9896 and she can provide you with a packet of information on how to help out.

Joyce McCartney is not a craft expert. She is, however, interested in crafting of all types. She shares her experiences and those of area crafters. To reach her, call 461-8364 or email Also, visit her blog at There, you will also find the weekly knitting podcast Math4Knitters.