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Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Maekayla Dial, 8, left, looks at dolls offered by Child Life Specialist Tammy Else at Lutheran Children’s Hospital as her mom, Lashyra, looks on.

Children’s hospital can use crafters’ help

As someone who finds a lot of information about crafting online, I also stumble across many opportunities to crochet, knit or sew for charitable giving.

The problem I’ve struggled with is that so many of those opportunities are in other states – even in other countries – and I’ve always been certain there is plenty of need right here in our community. So, we’ll be spotlighting some opportunities for you to craft for a cause and donate your handmade goods locally.

This week, we spoke to Tammy Else, child life specialist at Lutheran Children’s Hospital.

What I learned from Else is there are, in fact, a number of items the hospital will accept to ease the stay of sick children at the hospital.

Currently, the hospital’s cancer clinic area has groups that work on hats, scarves and blankets for children going through cancer treatment, and a group recently began making pillowcases out of soft flannel, she said. Everything the children get at the hospital goes home with them, she said.

The hospital also accepts blankets through the local Project Linus chapter and a group called Stitches for Hope.

What seems to be a large need for the hospital is blank cloth dolls (“shadow buddies” for the boys), which are used to show pediatric patients the procedures they will be undergoing.

“We start IV’s on them, put catheters in them, any test the child is going to have done,” Else said. “It helps them process and understand what’s happening and ways they can cope, and it makes it less scary for them… some kids need to process their feelings,” and the dolls help them do that.

“We have a consistent need for that,” she said.

The dolls – some are frogs and bears to make it less girly for the boy patients – are constructed using a simple pattern.

The hospital’s needs vary based on the seasons. Right now, they are low on blankets, so they’re giving out more stuffed animals to kids.

While there are plenty of groups (church quilting groups, Project Linus, Stitches for Hope) that any donor can work through, the hospital will also work with individuals interested in providing items. With a little guidance from Else, just about anyone can help out patients of the children’s hospital.

In addition to items to comfort the children, the hospital accepts craft kits that kids can work on during their stays: Items such as jewelry kits, keychain kits, foam crafts, wood crafting kits. So, even if you don’t consider yourself a crafter, there is a way to spread crafting to those in need.

Any items given out are in large zippered plastic bags, and while the hospital has stocked up on the bags, it will help if you can donate your items in the bags. And items should be washed and dried with unscented, allergen-free laundry detergent, Else said.

Anyone interested in donating to the hospital can call Else at 435-7344 to find out what Lutheran Children’s Hospital’s needs are.