Hayley Orlinsky has always been an entrepreneurial little girl – around three years ago, she sold the most cookies in her Girl Scout troop – but her biggest accomplishment so far has helped countless people in her Chicago community and beyond.
Since the pandemic began, Hayley has heard stories of hospitals having personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages. Having been taught the importance of kindness, this then 7-year-old decided to take matters into her own little hands by making and selling bracelets.
“When I was 3 years old, I got bullied for being the shortest kid in the class, and my mom wrote a book about it, and it was my moment I knew I wanted to spread kindness everywhere,” Hayley said.
What started off as a fun hobby with a goal of raising $200 quickly turned into so much more. Word of Hayley’s booming business spread near and far and, before she knew it, her bracelets were being sold in Italy and to prominent figures like Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Miguel Cervantes (the lead in Chicago’s production of “Hamilton”), and even members of the Chicago White Sox.
Her bracelets became so in demand, in fact, that she had to recruit others to help her make them, including her friends from summer camp.
“Every day the campers had the choice to help Hayley make bracelets, and she would come home with hundreds,” Lori said. “It was really helpful to us.”
Hayley added, “Yeah, because that’s when we were really in a tight squeeze.”
It wasn’t always easy to keep up with orders, but it was all worth it to be able to donate much-needed funds to the Lurie Children’s hospital, the very hospital where Hayley spent time in at the ICU just after birth.
“This kind of fundraising effort allows the hospital to use the money for a variety of different things,” Tracey McCusker, an associate director of the hospital’s foundation said. “It was definitely needed at a time, when we really needed to respond rapidly to Covid-19.”
Hayley, her family, and friends worked hard for a whole year to raise as much money as they could, and by March 28, 2021, they managed to reach $50,000! Not only did this help provide healthcare workers with PPE, but it also provided local low-income communities with PPE as well as much needed safety info to help them combat COVID.
In addition to covering PPE costs, the money raised also went toward funding the hospital’s telehealth services, the development of a diagnostic test, and COVID-19 research.
“Her support is helping, of course, inside of our hospital, but I would certainly (say) in our greater community as well,” Tracey said.
Although Hayley is no longer making the bracelets, there’s no telling what will come next from this kind-hearted little girl who simply loves helping other people.
“It was just a time when the world was at odds with each other and we had people from all walks of life donate,” Lori said. “This is proof that in really trying times we can all come together under a little girl with a beautiful mission.”
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