Behind towering piles of Poly-Fil stuffing and reams of colorful fabric, a small group of volunteers at Mt. Zion Christian Church pressed, cut, knit and stuffed as they kicked off the Loving Arms project for people affected by breast cancer.

Behind towering piles of Poly-Fil stuffing and reams of colorful fabric, a small group of volunteers at Mt. Zion Christian Church pressed, cut, knit and stuffed as they kicked off the Loving Arms project for people affected by breast cancer.

A few months ago, Rev. Bruce and Wanda Bouman accompanied Bruce's sister, Eloise Maloney, to a project in Columbia where volunteers crafted pillows to provide support and comfort for people recovering from breast cancer surgery. Wanda Bouman said they knew right away that they wanted to bring the concept back to Hannibal, starting their Loving Arms mission from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, July 13 at Mt. Zion Christian Church in Hannibal.

Bouman said she hoped to craft about 50 pillows and pouches to hold the drain required after surgery. Volunteers cut and stitched the items from colorful reams of fabric featured designs like Betty Boop, floral patterns and patriotic scenes. As Vicki Reynolds pressed fabric to be cut for the pillows, Bouman assisted Teresa Huffman and her mother, Marguerite Darley, with cutting fabric to make the specially-shaped pillows.

Bouman remembered making the first pillow and pouch for a close friend, Allison Rouse. With a goal of sending as many pillows as possible to health care facilities like the James E. Cary Cancer Center, Hannibal Regional, Hannibal Clinic and a facility in Kirksville, the volunteers plan to continue handcrafting the items as long as they're requested.

“We came home from Columbia with this, and it was like 'what better way to serve?'” she said.

Bouman wished a warm thank you to all of the volunteers who worked diligently in the church's fellowship hall. She also commended Ben Franklin for providing fabric, Walmart for the Poly-Fil stuffing and CW Trophies for making t-shirts.

As the Loving Arms mission continues at Mt. Zion Christian Church, Bouman invited members of the community to come out and join the effort from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15.

“We want to get the community involved in coming out and helping us, so it's a community project, as well as Mt. Zion,” she said.

Mt. Zion Christian Church is located at 5610 County Road 425, north of Hannibal on Highway 61.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com