Chicago 7-year-old raises money for hospital’s pandemic gear

“It’s more than the tooth fairy gives,” she said. It all started when she heard…

“It’s more than the tooth fairy gives,” she said.

It all started when she heard news stories about PPE shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic and was inspired to help. The money Hayley raises goes directly to Lurie through a fundraising office. Lurie hasn’t had any problems getting gear and has used the money to pay for masks, goggles, face shields, gloves and other items for medical workers and visitors, said Tracey McCusker, an associate director at the hospital’s foundation.

While many enterprising young people are raising funds for causes close to the heart, the amount Hayley has brought in is unusual.

“Her fundraiser is exponentially more than our typical kid fundraiser,” said McCusker who estimates $500 to $1,000 is about average.

For Hayley, the mission is personal. She spent her first days of life at Lurie’s neonatal intensive care unit after experiencing breathing problems. She wanted the doctors, nurses and medical staff working with kids to “protect themselves.”

Her mother, children’s book author Lori Orlinsky, estimates the effort has created roughly 8,000 bracelets, most of them made by Hayley. The fundraiser has been a family project: A 4-year-old sister helps organize the bands by color and both parents help mail the finished products nationwide.

Family friend Alysson Bourque, who lives in Sunset, Louisiana, purchased some before joining the project, looping bracelets with her own children.

“We were excited that bracelets were a symbol of hope and goodwill and brought people together in a time where people feel disconnected,” said Bourque, who also writes children’s books.

Others have pitched in, too.

Over the summer, Hayley introduced the idea at Apachi Day Camp, a summer program she’s attended for years. After Hayley’s pitch, campers of all ages were on board.

“It just became a thing that everyone wanted to do,” said Beth Miller, a camp director. “It bonded the kids.”

Hayley, who loves gymnastics and dancing, makes bracelets throughout the day, between online classes and often while watching television or listening to Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson. Sometimes her hands get sore.

“I need a manicure,” she said.

Her high-profile donors include Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and actor Miguel Cervantes, who played the lead role in the Chicago production of “Hamilton” and has appeared in plays in New York. The White Sox recognized her at a game.

Hayley, whose experience in sales includes selling the most cookies in her Girl Scout troop, has no immediate plans to stop making bracelets. The entrepreneur is continually dreaming up ways to bring in more money. She’s done holiday themed-bracelets, sports teams colors and red and light blue bracelets to represent the Chicago flag.

“I want to do it until coronavirus is over,” she said. “It feels like I’m helping a lot of people.”

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Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen

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“One Good Thing” is a series that highlights individuals whose actions provide glimmers of joy in hard times — stories of people who find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Read the collection of stories at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing

Hayley Orlinsky examines a bracelet she made from colorful rubber bands Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hayley Orlinsky examines a bracelet she made from colorful rubber bands Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Finished colorful rubber band bracelets made by Hayley Orlinsky sit is a plastic container Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Finished colorful rubber band bracelets made by Hayley Orlinsky sit is a plastic container Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Hayley Orlinsky reaches for a red rubber band Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, as she makes a colorful bracelet in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hayley Orlinsky reaches for a red rubber band Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, as she makes a colorful bracelet in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Hayley Orlinsky poses for a portrait Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, with several colorful rubber band bracelets she makes in her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hayley Orlinsky poses for a portrait Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, with several colorful rubber band bracelets she makes in her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Hayley Orlinsky crafts a bracelet from colorful rubber bands Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hayley Orlinsky crafts a bracelet from colorful rubber bands Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Hayley Orlinsky's hands move quickly as she crafts a bracelet from colorful rubber bands Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hayley Orlinsky’s hands move quickly as she crafts a bracelet from colorful rubber bands Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Hayley Orlinsky's tosses a finished bracelet made from colorful rubber bands Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in a bag at her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hayley Orlinsky’s tosses a finished bracelet made from colorful rubber bands Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in a bag at her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Colorful rubber bands sit is a plastic container Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, waiting for Hayley Orlinsky to make them into bracelets in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Colorful rubber bands sit is a plastic container Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, waiting for Hayley Orlinsky to make them into bracelets in the bedroom of her Chicago home. The 7-year-old has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic crafting the bracelets as a fundraiser, earning nearly $20,000, to buy personal protective equipment for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

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