The families of veterans seem to love the pillows, and they bring great comfort to the children.
John and Linda met in 1962 and have been married for 46 years. Their daughter Laura and her four children live nearby, so John and Linda look forward to each Wednesday when they take care of the children. John is a Vietnam era veteran who was stationed in Korea for much of his service. He worked for GE for 17 years before starting his own business selling safety equipment. John and Linda received this award together, and both will be on the cruise.
A few years back when John was writing a column for a local newspaper, he caught the attention of the Daughters of the American Revolution. They asked him to make a Memorial Day Presentation, and part of his speech involved the difficulties faced by the families of deployed servicemen. That brought John and Linda to ask: "What can we do to help?" Their answer was the Pillow Project USA.
In 2008, John and Linda donated seed money of $3000 and started a project where they make pillows with a picture of the deployed serviceman or woman in uniform for each of their children. The pillows are free. The program started slowly, but word soon spread. In some months they had to work ten hours a day, seven days a week to keep up with orders. The StoefflersStoefflers and their "Pillow Platoon" of volunteers download the pictures, sew and stuff the pillows, and then pack and mail them to the families. "We receive thank you letters regularly telling us, for example, that ‘now the monsters are gone.'" Our Sweet Dreams Pillows really do help children better cope with a parent being absent. "This is the best job I've ever had," said John, "and I don't receive a cent for my efforts."
John and Linda receive the occasional contribution from the local community and contribute out of their own pockets as needed. So far, over 4500 children have received special pillows. "Linda and Ihave found this means a great deal not only to the children but also to the parents," said John.