For children with CHD, open-heart surgery is something they will have to endure, and for many CHD Warriors, like Matthew, more than one-time.  The Hatchers knew first-hand what this experience is like for these children and their families and wanted to help.  Our “Hug a Heart” Pillow Project came about after Matthew’s 3rd open heart surgery. Matthew’s Nurse Svetlana was asked, “how can we help, Pediatric Cardiac ICU is a very stressful place”. She said “Get me some Heart Pillows” and after some prototypes were put together and send down for approval, the project was born.

The shape of our pillows are not only symbolic; these pillows serve an extremely important purpose.   After an open heart surgery, it is very difficult to cough and as you can imagine, it if even more difficult for a very young patient.  The “Hug a Heart” pillows not only help comfort CHD warriors when they are in the hospital, they also help give the children something to hug and hold onto, to get some relief when coughing or some much needed rest.  Our goal for our “Hug a Heart” Pillows is to help take away some of the pain following surgery and the uneasiness of being in a hospital and to let these brave fighters know people are thinking and praying for their recovery. 

The “Hug a Heart” Pillow Project is a true labor of love and could not be accomplished without the many hands and hearts that help with the entire process.  We are extremely fortunate to work with our area Prek-8 school – the Sherman School, local Girl Scout troops and sewing groups to cut, pre-sew, stuff, disinfect and bag our pillows.  We are also indebted to the generosity of many people who have donated to this project, especially to Fairfield Processing for donating their Poly-Fil, Clothinglabels4u for donating the tags and Joann Fabric and Craft Stores for their 50% discount on the soft flannel fabric. Over the past three years, we have delivered over 750 “Hug a Heart” Pillows to Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York and plan on branching out to Yale New Haven Hospital as well as Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. 

In 2014, Academy of Our Lady in Glen Rock, NJ held a “Hug a Heart” Pillow Project and our story caught the attention Heart Heros out of Omaha Nebraska and thanks to the generous sponsorship by Fairfield, CT based JunkLuggers, ‘Heart Hero Capes’ will now accompany our “Hug a Heart” Pillows.
Our “Hug A Heart” Pillows are stuffed with Poly-Fil, love and a little hope from one child to another.

Since 2014, our “Hug a Heart” Pillow Project has grown and expanded enormously. We have made close to 4000 pillows to date.

We now deliver “Hug a Heart” Pillows to
• Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York
• Weill Cornell, New York.
• Westchester Medical Center, White Plains, New York
• Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
• Boston Children’s Hospital
• Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford, CT
• Peyton Manning Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana

We have completed a project annually at The Sherman School where Matthew and his brothers attend.
We have also completed projects at 
• Academy of our Lady Elementary School. Glen Rock, New Jersey
• John F Kennedy Elementary School, Brewster, New York
• Washington Elementary School, Washington, CT
• Meeting Hill House School, New Fairfield, CT
• Bright Beginnings Day Care, New Fairfield, CT

And we helped Lane Miller, BSA Team 6887 with his Eagle Scout Project in memory of his brother Rheese Miller who passed away 6 years ago of complications from his CHD. He donated the Heart Pillows to Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona where his brother had his surgeries.
Sarah Robbins and her class at Malad High School in Malad, Idaho.
Again we are grateful for all who help make this happen, there are many volunteers who cut, pre sew and sew closed the pillows. We are grateful to all the children who stuff the pillows with polyfill, love and a little hope from one child to another, that’s pretty special!

If you would like to get involved, know of a group or school that would like to organize a “Hug a Heart” Pillow Project, please contact us for more information. If you know of a child in need of a “Hug a Heart” Pillow or a hospital who would like a delivery of “Hug a Heart” Pillows, please email Marie at