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Published:  January 5, 2010

A Heart To Hang On To

A tiny, hand-sewn stuffed-cloth heart tucked in a pocket or held in the palm of a hand, is offering comfort to many patients at St. Luke's The Woodlands Hospital (SLWH).

The "Feely Heart" was created in 2005 by SLWH chaplain Randall Trego when he was preparing for the hospital’s annual Blessing of the Hands ceremony, which honors the work of healthcare workers and recognizes their worth of also being cared for.

“What a story these hearts tell,” said Chaplain Trego, who leads the Pastoral Care department at The Woodlands. “I often will hand one of these to a patient who is suffering or frightened and it makes such an impression to them to have a simple piece of something comforting to hold. This concept truly dovetails with our mission of providing Faithful, Loving Care®.  These hearts are distributed to anyone in need of a little love, healing and encouragement.”

There are people who have received a Feely Heart—from patients and their families and friends to hospital staff—and have never forgotten what it meant to them during their time of need.  As a result, some volunteered to give back by creating more hearts to donate to the hospital’s Pastoral Care Department. The hospital has received donations from individuals around Houston and various churches and embroidery groups.

The hearts are a little less than three inches wide by three inches tall, just a bit smaller than a Post-It® note, and are made from scraps of soft, cotton fabric. “Life is frayed, and that’s what makes these hearts feel real,” explains Chaplain Trego.  “They are a reflection that we are not perfect and can be frayed around the edges at times.”  A 1/8” seam is sewn around the outside of the heart, which is then stuffed with a polyester fiberfill to create a soft puff.

Pastoral Care volunteer and avid quilter, Betty Hobbs of St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital, said, “When we make these hearts, you think, those who will receive one, who are sick or hurting and who will be holding these. With a Feely Heart, you’ll know God is with you. I have received so many blessings in giving these to others, and in giving people comfort in their time of need. It honestly comes back to me ten-fold.”

Chaplain Trego adds, “I think the deep-down significance conveyed in these hearts is the message that there is more to life than that particular moment they are going through.”
St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital is located at 17200 St. Luke’s Way in The Woodlands, at the southwest corner of SH 242 and I-45.  For more information, please call (936) 266-2000 or visit

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