Jan Link is proud to see her artwork hanging on display. Even if it's not on a gallery wall.
"Last year, when we made Valentine's hearts to place on patients' dinner trays, a nurse told me that one of the patients hung the heart on his IV line," she said with a smile.
A trio of volunteers known around Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point as the JAM Girls — consisting of Jan Link, 82, Audrey Gerds, 88, and Maria Bellucci, 80 — bring cheer to the patients with special crafts each holiday. Lately they've been busy making 188 heart-shaped paper valentines, filling each one with a red-and-white sugar-free peppermint candy.
"It's unreal and amazing, the things they come up with," said Ann Amato, a welcome center volunteer at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. "They never let a holiday go by without creating something beautiful."
"They make (patients') stay here a little brighter," added welcome center volunteer Tom Runnions.
The ladies gather each Wednesday in the hospital cafeteria and put their nimble fingers to work, creating holiday crafts that adorn patient trays.
A cardboard toilet paper roll, covered with a napkin and filled with candy, becomes a firecracker for the Fourth of July.
A recycled greeting card with a floral design becomes an Easter basket, lined with plastic grass and filled with chocolate eggs.
They make angels and sleds for Christmas, not only for patients, but for hundreds of other hospital volunteers; and additional crafty creations for Halloween and Thanksgiving.
They also make centerpieces, decorations and little favors for hospital holiday parties. One year they even made Halloween baskets for the children served by the hospital daycare center.
"It's nice to give back to the community," said Link.
"And we love making the patients' day," Bellucci added. "It makes us feel good, too."
Gerds' day was made earlier this month, when she received the hospital's Five Star Volunteer Award. Nominated for this honor by Link, Gerds was recognized for working 1,437 hours since she started in 2005.
"I was so honored," she said. "I'm very proud."
Link won this same honor last year, and also has nominated Bellucci for the award. Together these three ladies have put in nearly three decades of service at the hospital; three years ago they pooled their creative efforts to become the JAM Girls.
They work on a hospital-allotted budget of about $100 per year, supplemented with their personal craft supplies and items donated by hospital staff. They enjoy free cafeteria meals and light conversation while they work.
"We share very sweet company here," Bellucci said.
And they are constantly in demand. Link is also part of a crafting group that makes gifts for local nursing home patients. Bellucci crafts with her grandchildren, and has made them "honorary JAM Girls" to help out for a few projects. During the craft session last Wednesday, a nurse approached Gerds for help creating Mardi Gras masks for a kids' event at a local church.
"I'll be there to help," Gerds promised.