VERSAILLES, Mo. – In the midst of the holiday season, the spirit of giving is all around. Nine-year-old Averee Hooper decided to make her season of giving a yearlong project, using her sewing skills to help kids with cancer.

Averee made her first pillowcase as a Missouri 4-H project for the Morgan County fair this past summer. After her grandmother died of cancer, Averee became determined to do something for others who suffer from cancer and other serious diseases.

She decided to make 57 pillowcases a month for a whole year for sick children in local hospitals. So far, Averee has made more than 200 pillowcases.

“Averee’s project has just grown phenomenally from this one little pillowcase that she made as her first project in sewing,” said University of Missouri Extension 4-H youth specialist Mary Anne Patten. “She brought it to the county fair, then it went to the state fair, and then she decided she was going to do these pillowcases for the children at the hospital.”

Averee teamed up with ConKerr Cancer, an organization that has delivered more than 430,000 cheerful pillowcases to children in hospitals across the country. Averee’s goal is to make sure all seriously ill kids in local hospitals receive one of her pillowcases.

“It’s a lot of work. I try to keep up, but with school and everything it’s kind of hard,” she said.

She calls her project “Pocketful of Sunshine,” from the title of a pop song.

“It talks about taking a person to a better place and I thought that’s a good name,” Averee said.

The pillowcases the kids receive from Averee are different from the usual hospital pillowcases.

“Mine are kind of crazy designs. I just want to remind them of happiness,” she said.

She recently had the chance to meet 9-year-old Aliyah Earickson, who received pillowcases during her stay at MU Children’s Hospital in Columbia. “The hospital pillowcases are plain white. These are colorful and they have people’s favorite things on them and they’re just amazing,” Aliyah said.

“She treasures these pillowcases because they really do mean something to her,”said Aliyah’s mother, Renee Earickson. “She spent lots of time with them here. When we packed we always had a blanket but we never had a pillowcase because we knew when we got here we would have one.”

Averee goes through many yards of fabric to make 57 pillowcases a month.

“People have heard about this project and so they’re donating fabric or donating some money so she can buy more fabric to make the pillowcases,” Patten said. “She has people donating and sending stuff in from all over the state.”

Averee never dreamed of the impact her project would make on her community.

“It started out as a 4-H project but then it got to be much bigger than a 4-H project,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to get to be this big of a deal.”

“Averee shows that you don’t have to be in a large city, you don’t have to be someone who’s older, to accomplish goals. She set her mind to what she wanted to do and she has done it,” Patten said. “The dream project is for a child to learn something and then to master that project to the point that she can help other people and bring happiness to other children’s lives.”

MU Extension 4-H helps youth excel through community outreach and leadership development.

Learn more about Pocketful of Sunshine on Averee’s website at She can also be contacted by her email at [email protected]. Any donations can be mailed to Morgan County MU Extension Center, ATTN: Averee Hooper, 100 East Newton, 4th Floor, Versailles, MO 65084.

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