Alumna Gina Matthiesen graduated
in 2010 with a degree in human
services from the
“Sweet Dreams” is a project that Matthiesen started four years ago to collect pillowcase care packages that consist of boy or girl pajamas (all sizes needed), a new cuddle blanket or toy, and then placed in a pillow case that is labeled with the sex and size.
“Over 4,500 of these care packages are currently in distribution in Wisconsin alone, and I receive requests weekly for more items,” said Matthiesen, who serves as program director for her “Sweet Dreams” organization and as a social worker for the state of Wisconsin. Matthiesen received the 2010 Wisconsin Jefferson Award for Service to the Community award for her “Sweet Dreams” project and was also nominated for the National Jefferson Award that same year.
“We had an awesome fourth year,” exclaimed Matthiesen. “Enough packages to restock all of Wisconsin.” Due to the loss of her father last year, Matthiesen took December 2010 off to be with him before he passed. Much to her surprise, people still went to the mall to donate items even when not asked for them. “People actually went to our local mall and asked where the ‘Sweet Dreams’ lady was,” said Matthiesen. “I collected a large number of packages that year without even asking, which shows 'Sweet Dreams' is an established program with quite a following.” She added that many clubs, organizations, businesses, and volunteers are already planning ahead for the 2012 drive.
Matthiesen said a hot item requested this year was diapers. “I was on a mission to fulfill this request I had received from so many different counties,” she said. “By simply adding this to our wish list this year, we were able to provide scores of diapers as well.”
Mattheisen said she has been contacted to speak in Seattle, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Illinois on how to implement a “Sweet Dreams” program in their areas. “My mission is to create ‘Sweet Dreams’ for these little angels wherever I can,” stated Matthiesen. “Many of these children’s lives are a living nightmare, and this is just one small way to let them know they are loved and not forgotten.”
Incidentally, Matthiesen’s family helps her collect the packages and greet people on “Sweet Dreams” collection day at the mall each December—dressed in their pajamas.
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