Lyle resident Billie Holcomb has been making and distributing handmade stuffed animals and clothes for infants of One Community Health (OCH) for three years.

“She reached out and wanted to donate these stuffed animals for us to give to children,” said OCH caregiver Delfina Reyes.

The handmade toys are soft, are made with safety eyes and noses, and even have lavender inside them so they smell good.

“The children just love them. For some, it’s their first and only toy and I think they do remember us because of it. It makes an impression,” said Reyes.

Holcomb, a retired nurse from the Oregon Veterans’ Home, came up with the idea of donating the handmade toys after feeling like her own grandchildren had received plenty.

“One Community Health immediately popped into mind.  As a nurse, I thought about when you give a child a shot. Well, with this, you could then give them a stuffed animal, too!” said Holcomb.

The stuffed animals have become a much-appreciated tool that enables the OCH case workers to be more effective as they help certain patients in need. When the children and babies are entertained by the new toy, parents feel more relaxed and get more accomplished during their visit, which can sometimes take up to two hours depending on the case’s complexity.

As a result, caregivers like Reyes are more successful in providing perinatal and postpartum education and care. Under the ACA, such patients get to experience OCH’s services and support that nurture the whole person, everything from nutrition counseling to gestational and Type II diabetes screening/management, breastfeeding support, the Home Visit Connections program, behavioral health and more.

As OCH’s Caregivers say, all this “good” is leading to very positive outcomes for patients. It’s also reinforcing OCH’s reputation for advancing the health and wellbeing for all members of its community.

In this role, OCH recognizes that the ability to carry out this mission depends on key partners, such as powerful state and national leaders who understand the importance of all lives, including the needy. It also depends on local partners like Holcomb, who takes pains to make sure every little crocheted animal gets made with quality yarn, stuffed with hypo-allergic materials, and stitched with a hand that cares.

“Each one takes about two days to make. But when finished, they’re just as safe and as good as anything in a store. The difference is these are better—these are made with love,” said Holcomb.

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