Pillows made with pet-friendly purpose

Published 10:52 pm Friday, August 23, 2019

Three young ladies in Suffolk are making “Pillows 4 Puppies” and raising hundreds of dollars for Ruff Road Pet Rescue.

Pet owners are ordering these soft, adorably-decorated pillows made by Virginia Hughes, 11, and her stepsisters Molly, 9, and Julia Winslow, 7. Proceeds from their sales go directly to Ruff Road Pet Rescue, a 501c3 nonprofit that encourages fostering to help adoptable animals find good, loving homes.

The Winslow family has two dogs that they’ve adopted through Ruff Road Pet Rescue, and they’re also fostering three Ruff Road puppies — one with only one eye, according to mother Erin Winslow — and a kitten with a mouth deformity.

But these aren’t just “pets” to the Winslows.

“We call Jameson and Gamora our brother and sister,” Virginia said.

“They’re absolutely our family,” Erin Winslow concurred.

The idea for the pillows came after Jameson severely broke his leg in an accident back in April. The leg had to be amputated, and while his long recovery has gone well, his treatments cost thousands of dollars.

Ruff Road stepped in and fundraised to help cover Jameson’s medical bills. According to Founding Director and President Hollie Collins, this dog is “worth every penny.”

“We wanted to help,” Collins said. “Jameson is our alumni, and the Winslows are a very important family to us.”

Molly made Jameson a red pillow to make his lengthy recovery period a little more comfortable. The dog immediately began to rest his weary head on his new pillow. Then, Molly got the idea to make more pillows and see if they could sell them to raise money for Ruff Road.

“Because Ruff Road helped Jameson, she wanted to pay it forward for the rescue,” Erin Winslow said.

Molly, Julia and Virginia have been busy making pillows ever since. Each one is eight-by-nine inches of soft cotton, with a wide range of different fabrics and designs to satisfy any pet owner’s personal tastes.

They started making these pillows by hand but have since upgraded to multiple sewing machines to keep up with demand. They do all of their work at their grandmother Vicki Winslow’s house in Suffolk.

Vicki Winslow said her granddaughters have worked hard this summer, like a “little assembly line.”

“They can remember that they spent their summer making pillows with their Nanny,” she said. “We made some wonderful memories.”

As of Friday, the girls have officially sold and delivered 81 pillows, with another 40 pillows spoken for and set for delivery.

Their success has allowed them to expand into pillows with cat designs, and because they’ve all been made with donated materials and funds so far, 100-percent of the profits have gone to Ruff Road.

“I was expecting to sell four or five pillows and be done with it, but nope,” Molly said with a smile. “I’m excited. I don’t want to be done with it.”

The girls have raised more than $402 for the rescue as of Friday.

“We’re just very grateful,” said Eileen Jewett, vice president of Ruff Road Pet Rescue. “It’s very, very heartwarming to see this compassion at such a young age, and we’re very proud of them.”

These girls are also learning a lot through their hard work. They’re keeping track of expenses, orders, deliveries and payments, and they’re being smart about how they use their donations to keep their costs minimal.

Plus, they’re learning how to care for animals properly through fostering.

“It takes a lot of work, (but) we’re raising money to help animals,” Julia said.

Collins commended not just the girls for their tenderness, but their family as well.

“I think it’s amazing,” she said. “Not only they should be congratulated, but their family should be commended for educating these girls so well about animal welfare and giving back to the community.”

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and these three girls have the combined support of their parents, grandparents and others who are immensely proud of their enthusiasm to help.

“All a parent wants to know is that their kids are good kids, and that they’re doing well and are happy,” Erin Winslow said. “This project shows how amazing our kids are, and they’re happy doing it.”

Pillows 4 Puppies are $5 each. Email pillows4rrpuppies@gmail.com to place an order, and visit facebook.com/pillows4puppies for more information.

For more information on Ruff Road Pet Rescue, visit ruffroadpetrescue.com and search for “Ruff Road Pet Rescue” on Facebook for more information.