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Bringing treasured pillows back to life, with expert fluff

Mike Carlson stands in his truck, which serves as a mobile station to service pillows. He was in town Saturday with a pillow fundraiser for St. Peter the Apostle Church, which will use the funds to pay for missions to Haiti. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

BY Sarah smith

Fifty-two down pillows saw new life Saturday in a Haiti fundraiser put on by St. Peter the Apostle Church.

Carlson Pillow Service of Willmar brought its service truck to Park Rapids to restore and revitalize down pillows that many folks hang on to for sentimental reasons.

There are few options for cleaning down pillows in the North Country.

The service truck contained small dry cleaners that Mike Carlson dumped feathers into from covers split open and discarded.

They swirled for five plus minutes.

“Water and soap take the essential oils out of the feathers,” Carlson explained. And wetting feathers puts them at risk for mold, not to mention that they can cause allergy issues. Not the feathers themselves, but the dust and dirt that can, over time, cling to them. So dry cleaning is the most viable option.

No chemicals are used in the cleaning process.

Carlson was also selling partial down pillows at a cost of $19.95 to $69.95. That’s why owners tend to hold on to them.

Customers were offered several ticking choices around $12 and could have the option of adding feathers to flat pillows.

Carlson said pillows can be made from goose or waterfowl down, the chest feathers that have no quills.

Chicken feathers are used in the less expensive models.

The fundraiser was the brainchild of church member Terry Zoller, who said she’s seen it in other parishes.

The fundraiser sponsors mission trips to Port de Paix, Haiti, where church members are helping build schools and helping sponsor individual children, who need uniforms and supplies.

“We’ve never done this before,” said parish members Kathleen Schilson and Rita Boyce. They had no idea what to expect, but said people tend to get very attached to their pillows, especially down ones.

Carlson said he can clean and restore 100-150 pillows a day.

Once the feathers get blown into their new casings, he uses a 50-year-old Singer sewing machine to close the seam.

It works like a charm.

New pillows in hand, customers hugged them on the way to their cars.

Carlson returns to the church Aug. 19 for a daylong session of pillow restoration.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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