The showroom of in Parkville is full of the sorts of things you might expect to find: carpet and floorings samples, carpeting supplies and a friendly staff that's willing to help.
On some Saturday mornings, though, it's also full of something you might not expect: a group of women sewing and stuffing pillows for the .
The women, some from as far away as Ocean Pines and Laurel, and while their last names range from Bowers to Canatella, all are members of the original Marken family. They come to Parkville, where most of them grew up, to the family-operated store to make small pillows that give some comfort to women suffering from .
, a Perry Hall resident, started the initiative six years ago.
"I've done a lot of volunteer work—my mom had just died, so I had time, and I wanted a volunteer opportunity that was more flexible," Bowers said.
She found the opporunity she was looking for using the Volunteer Match website; the American Cancer Society needed volunteers to make pillows for the care packages they send to women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Bowers began making pillows with her aunt, who has since passed away, at her home on Woodside Avenue in Parkville. Soon after, she decided to get the rest of her family involved.
"I called a few of the cousins—you know, we only see each other at weddings and funerals—I thought this would be a great way to spend time together and visit our aunt," Bowers said.
The Marken women completed their 5,000th pillow this past Saturday, and they plan to make many, many more.
"Its good to know you're doing something to help others—we don't know who they are, or where they are. They get these pillows, they don't even know we've made them, and it brings them some comfort," said Debbie Bowers.