Tuesday, July 10, 2012
One week was all it took for a ministry called Sandy’s Pink Pockets to grow into a full-fledged outreach effort.
Named in honor of the late Sandy Brown Autry, who died of brain cancer in December 2011, the women’s ministry at Hickory Valley Community Church is making “pink pockets” to encourage and comfort those that must endure the hardships of the disease, especially as they undergo chemotherapy.
“Even though Sandy is not here telling us to do this, she is here,” said Peggy Bell, middle school pastor at Hickory Valley. “This is her legacy.”
The pockets contain small essentials such as tissues, lip balm, hand sanitizer, water bottles, etc.
When cancer patients undergo chemotherapy, they lose a significant amount of independence as the treatment affects their bodies, Bell explained. The patients must be still for extended periods of time, and the simplest actions become difficult, even if the action is as simple as retrieving a tissue for a runny nose.
Bell said that while Sandy underwent chemotherapy, she was continually saying they should create something, a “pink pocket,” that contained everything a chemo patient might need or want, from a packet of tissues to a bottle of water.
“Sandy was constantly thinking about what she could do for other people,” Bell said. “She always felt like she wanted to do more and more and more.”
The women’s ministry, which calls itself Women Actively Serving, took on the project after Amy Autry, Sandy’s daughter-in-law, shared her mother-in-law’s vision of encouragement during a recent group brunch. When she first shared Sandy’s vision Autry said she didn’t know what exactly could be done or what the pocket should even look like.
The day after the initial brunch, nearly all the supplies for the pockets had already been donated. Soon after, 20-plus women ranging in age from 13-80 years old set up sewing machines at the church.
Within four hours, they created the first 50 pockets.
“The pockets are good to have during chemo, but they are also good to take home and have within arm’s reach,” Autry said.
Group members said they hope to place a bookmark or pamphlet into the pockets that tells Sandy’s story of how she battled her disease but never allowed her spirit to be crushed.
“Sandy was an unbelievable encourager,” said Teresa Richardson, Sandy’s best friend. “I know it was a God-given thing.”
While she was still living, Sandy’s story reached beyond her own community. Through a campaign of sorts Bell posted a Bible verse about praise on Facebook each day for 30 days, calling it “30 Days of Praise for Sandy.”
“I followed Sandy’s journey through [Bell’s Facebook profile],” WAS member Lisa Sadler said. “I am not a member of [Hickory Valley Community Church], but through Sandy’s story, I feel so blessed to be a part of this group.”
Bell said she hopes that the ministry continues to grow and that Sandy’s vision can continue to reach others in unimaginable ways.
“It’s going to be amazing to see the ripple affects of what God’s doing,” Bell said. “We are even looking for corporate sponsorship of some kind.”
Sandy’s husband Dale, and her two children, Jeff and Paige, along with their families, said they are excited and eager to see Sandy’s legacy live on in the form of this ministry.
“To see [that] she is here even though she has passed away … her encouragement is still moving on … it’s amazing,” Autry said. “[Through the project] everyone still gets to see Sandy.”