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Volunteers Make Pillowcases For Florida Students To Help Cope

By Kelly Werthmann

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) - When a Colorado small business owner heard students in Parkland, Florida were having trouble sleeping after the deadly school shooting, she knew she had to help.

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Melanie Avjean, founder of Flipside Pillow, designs pillowcases with fabric containing positive messages on one side and blank fabric on another.

Each includes a marker so other shapes and inspiring words can be written on the other. She came up with the idea to help kids in hospitals, foster care, away at camp and more.

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"Hopefully they'll sleep better and wake up happier," Avjean told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.

Never did she imagine her special designs would be sent to survivors of a school shooting, including the daughter of Avjean's friend.

"Our kids are having a hard time," Debby Stout, mother of a Stoneman Douglas High School senior, told CBS4 by FaceTime. "I know my daughter isn't sleeping well, and I know her friends aren't sleeping well either."

Stout's 17-year-old daughter, Liz, was in one of the classrooms where students were killed on Valentine's Day.

"There were four casualties in her classroom," Richard Stout, Liz's father, said. "One of her friends was shot dead."

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It is a pain Colorado students know all too well. That's why Englewood High School sophomore Jessie Albert joined a group of volunteers at The Guild to sign and send 300 pillowcases to students in Florida.

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"Even though they're going through this, people love them all around the world and they're not alone," she said.

Other families and friends joined the pillowcase signing, including a retired teacher who worked with students during the Columbine shooting.

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"Love and sweet dreams to you from Colorado," Lori Snyder said as she read her message written inside a heart on a blue pillowcase.

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It's a love and support like Albert's that gives the Stout family hope.

"We are overwhelmed by the outreach," Richard Stout said. "It's just been wonderful in a dark time."

The pillowcases will be shipped to the Stout Family later in the week. Debby said she looks forward to handing them out to students and others in need.

Before the pillowcases are sent, they will be stored at The Guild in Englewood until Thirsday.

Avjean encourages other people to come by to share their messages for Parkland. Anyone interested in donating to pay for shipping the pillowcases can send an email to

Visit for more information.

Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.

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