Story by MCSA Carla Ocampo
Photo by MC3 Benjamin Crossley

There is more color aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and it’s not a new flight deck jersey, but something Sailors can rest their head on after a tiresome day of work.

United Stennis Family and Friends created the Pillowcase Project, a program that provides handmade pillowcases to Stennis Sailors. Each pillow case is made by mothers, wives, and decorated by children across the country who want to show their support. Each pillow case comes with a small note of who made it.

“Pillowcases are personal and something Sailors can hold onto when they go to sleep at night,” said Ms. Theresa Jackson, Pillowcase Project coordinator. “They brighten up their bunk, give it a touch of home and replace the rough materials of standard issue.”

Each pillowcase is different. They vary in size and design, some fancier and some simpler. With design themes ranging from sports, food and animals, there is a pillow case for every personality aboard the ship.

“Some Sailors spend up to 10 minutes trying to pick out the right design for them,” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Kathleen Matthews. “Sailors choose even the girlie ones because it reminds them of their loved ones.”

Matthews said Sailors are always excited when they receive their pillowcase and that many Sailors have e-mailed or written notes to the group thanking them.

“Getting any type of touch from home is always a morale boost,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Wills, one of Stennis’ chaplains. “Knowing that people appreciate what they do makes Sailors feel better.”

Families not only make these pillow cases to keep Sailors’ morale up, but remind them they are remembered by so many people back home.

“The pillowcases will hopefully remind them every night before they go to bed that we love and miss them very much,” said Jackson. “That we think about them and support them.”

Stennis has received more than 1,200 pillowcases and is expected to receive a total of 4,000 pillowcases before deployment is over. Sailors can pick up a pillowcase in the Religious Program Specialist office located at 03-128-14-L.

“The pillowcases are free,” said Wills. “They are made with a lot of love and appreciation for all that the Sailors do.”

A pillowcase is not just a simple gift, but a sweet gesture from family and friends back home to remind Sailors they are not alone and their sacrifice and duty to their country is recognized and appreciated.