Military moms hope to impart sweet dreams to sons, other troops overseas

Founded with the motto "They'll sleep better so we'll sleep better," a nonprofit group formed by a pair of Beaufort military moms aims to help troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan get a better night's rest.

Barbara Farrior was watching a segment on NBC's "The Today Show" last week about a Midland Park, N.J., sewing school that had sent more than 1,000 pillows to troops overseas. With her own son set to deploy to Iraq in less than two months, Farrior decided to take action.

"I called up a friend and asked if she wanted to sew some pillows," Farrior said. "I saw the pictures of those guys sleeping under Humvees and wherever they could and thought, 'You think you've had a bad night's sleep.' "

One of the first people Farrior contacted was longtime friend Jenny Bush of Beaufort, whose son, Marine Lt. Jonathan Bush, deployed to Afghanistan in May.

"I pretty much started jumping up and down," Bush said. "I thought it was a great idea, and knowing what those guys have to deal with over there, I knew they'd be so excited to get pillows. I immediately thought of Jonathan."

Farrior's pillow pursuit then took her to Harris Pillow Supply of Beaufort, where she asked what kind of stuffing would be best for a pillow that would need to be comfortable, foldable to fit in soldiers' packs and washable.

What she got instead was an offer that would lead to the start of her five-day-old nonprofit, Pillows for Patriots.

"We could make the pillows in any size or shape that they needed right here, so we talked about donating the pillows at no cost," said John Harris, president of Harris Pillow Supply. "(The troops) get issued a lot of things when they go over there, but they don't get issued pillows so they just use whatever they can."

"This was just an easy and small way to give back to those men and women for all they do," added Patrick Harris, Harris Pillow Supply's vice president.

Almost immediately, the Beaufort business started making the 12-by-16-inch pillows, stuffing them with about six ounces of soft polyester. Each pillow will cost about $1.50 each in materials and labor, Patrick Harris said.

Farrior said she and Bush calculated that it will cost twice as much to mail the pillows as it does to make them.

The first 150 pillows off the line are expected to be shipped today to 150 soldiers at Fort Riley, Ka., a unit that will deploy to Iraq in less than 60 days under the command of Farrior's son, Justin Farrior, 29, an Army company commander.

By week's end, Harris Pillow Supply will have another 100 pillows ready to ship to Afghanistan to the Marines serving with Jonathan Bush there.

Having raised close to $1,000 in donations in less than a week, Farrior and Bush said they soon hope to ship the pillows to other units in combat zones.

Farrior said given the area's strong military presence, she was hardly shocked by how quickly Pillows for Patriots snowballed.

"I'm very pleased that its been received so well, a little overwhelmed, gratified and thrilled," she said. "It's a big wow."

"It's been a total community effort," Bush added. "This is something totally doable and something that the troops will really love."

Though not yet certified by the state as a nonprofit, Farrior said 100 percent of the money donated will go toward shipping the pillows overseas and other costs related to postage.