Ginger Dosedel is a self-described military brat and the wife of an Air Force officer. But she never thought she'd turn her living room into a makeshift military depot, that is, until her 12-year-old son Mike spoke up.
"He saw the soldiers on television in a hospital gown, and he told me, 'Mom, you should sew for them, they need someone to sew for them,'" recalls Dosedel.
Mike knew firsthand his mom would be up to the job. He's a survivor of a rare bone cancer, and periodically needs surgery to help his right leg grow to the proper length. Over the course of many surgeries, Ginger has altered his pants and shorts to accommodate the special brace he occasionally must wear.
"People don't look at you as much when you have something that covers it," says Mike.
Mike got to know some injured troops during his last hospital stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He figured they would appreciate the tailored clothes, too.
And that's how Sew Much Comfort was born.
Now, more than a year later, more than 1,000 people from across the country are donating their time, money and talent to create street clothing for servicemembers with combat injuries. Some of the items are purchased and then altered; others are sewn from scratch. Everything from casual shirts to pants and shorts can be altered to fit around a cast or a metal brace, or provide easy access to burns and amputations that need regular cleaning and monitoring. Another important design detail: Each item is adapted so that an injured soldier, airman or marine can get dressed without help.
"These guys should be able to wear these clothes out and feel perfectly normal," says Ginger Dosedel.
So far, more than 9,000 items of clothing have been sent to 20 military clinics and hospitals.
The folks at Sew Much Comfort say they couldn't help injured troops recover without the feedback of the military's medical staff — the people who see the wounded at their most vulnerable.
"They had burn victims that couldn't get regular shirts over their head and they would contact us and say, 'can you do something about this?'" says Ginger Dosedel.
At Landstuhl Hospital in Germany, the first stop for soldiers injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, the recipients are grateful and pleased to learn ordinary Americans are behind their new clothes.
Pfc. Jeremy Williams of Memphis, Tenn., injured his hand while serving in Afghanistan. He now has a waterproof mitten to protect the cast and keep his hand warm.
"Pretty cool," he says. "You know, it's not some big corporation that's doing it, making money off it. It's just everyday people like you and me sewing things up for injured soldiers to make their lives easier."
Even though Sew Much Comfort is turning into a full-time job for Ginger Dosedel, she brushes off the compliments and says her son deserves much of the credit.
"[He learned] to take personal experiences, no matter how painful they are, and to be able to look out and bring something good out of that painful experience," she says.
A mother and her son helping make a difference for American troops in need.