RANCHO VIEJO, Texas — A pair of South Texas women are slowly stitching some humanity onto the immigration debate by sewing together pillows and plush dolls for migrants and their children.

Melba Salazar-Lucio and her 83-year-old mother Maria Elena Salazar started a project last summer called “Pillows of Love.” Since then, they’ve received dozens of letters from strangers from across the country encouraging them to continue their efforts.

“Hi Melba, I hope you’re finding courage, help, and perseverance in this time of tragedy and trials on the border,” Salazar-Lucio read from a letter.

The idea came from Salazar, a retired school teacher who saw a need in the migrant families who were arriving to the US-Mexico border. “A small pillow for the people to lay their head on,” she said. “They’re all so tired and they’re laying on the ground most of the time.”

In just 12 months, the mother-daughter duo has made nearly 5,000 pillows, including their latest plush doll creation: “Pals of hope.”

But it wasn’t always easy.

“Some people criticized me,” Salazar said.

Apart from the backlash by some in their community for helping migrants, they said, Salazar and Salazar-Lucio had no money and no materials to continue making dolls and pillows.

“I’m not a very obedient person. I’ve done what I want all my life,” admitted Salazar. “They’re not going to stop me.”

As word got out about “Pillows of Love”, donations began pouring in.

“It’s a trend of people caring for others,” said Salazar-Lucio. “$25 here, $25 there. [It] adds up!”

With a new sewing machine, they’re now producing about 70 pillows an evening. To the duo, the dolls and pillows are stuffed with more than cloth and cotton.

“It’s just not right for us to sit down and not think what people are going through, regardless of where they’re from,” Salazar said. “They’re humans and we have to have a heart.”

To contact "Pillows of Love" you can email Melba Salazar-Lucio at melba.lucio@tsc.edu


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