Hilliard Northwest News

Local senior citizens honored for volunteer work

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Elke Lester (left) and Mickey Bigbie, both members of the Phyllis A. Ernst Senior Center in Hilliard, show blankets they made for infants in the neonatal intensive care unit at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Hilliard residents Mickey Bigbie, 75, and Elke Lester, 71, recently were honored for donating 260 hand-stitched blankets to Nationwide Children's Hospital.

The blankets are used to cover the incubators in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.

"They are made with lots of love," Lester said.

Bigbie and Lester were among the dozens of members of the Phyllis A. Ernst Senior Center in Hilliard who were recognized April 17 at the annual volunteers luncheon.

They were collectively honored for donating about 6,500 volunteer hours during the past 12 months. Much of the time involved volunteer work at the senior center or recreation and parks department events that saved the city time and money, said Beth Simon, program manager for the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department.

"We have such a special group of thoughtful seniors," Simon said.

Many of the center's volunteers work at the senior center in the office or in food service. Others help with fundraising efforts or at the senior center's garage sale.

In other instances, the volunteer work leaves the boundaries of Hilliard.

Lester, a seamstress by trade, said she wanted to help make the blankets when she learned of the need to find another source for the blankets. She discovered Bigbie also wanted to help.

One sews and the other quilts a 36-by-48-inch blanket, which is fleece on one side and cotton on the other.

A heart is sewn on each blanket, illustrative of the love invested in each blanket, Bigbie said.

The softer and warmer fleece side of the blanket is used to swaddle the baby once the child goes home from the hospital.

The women generally purchase their own supplies but also rely on donation of materials which can be made at the senior center, 3810 Veterans Memorial Drive.