JEFFERSON PARK — Almost every morning, Hayley Orlinsky wakes up early to begin making bracelets. Lots of bracelets.
As of Monday morning, the 7-year-old Jefferson Park resident has raised $14,280 for Lurie Children’s Hospital by selling the bracelets — and her mom Lori Orlinsky said she’s not slowing down.
Hayley said she was inspired to start the fundraiser when she learned hospitals were facing mask and ventilator shortages during the pandemic. She chose Lurie because she was born at the hospital and spent her first few days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“My mom watches the news a lot, and I overheard that they’re running out of masks for the doctors and nurses that are treating people with coronavirus, and I wanted to do something that could help them,” she said.
Hayley said she has three activities that she cycles through during quarantine: “eat, sleep and make bracelets.” She said she makes about a 100 bracelets a day. They sell for $3 apiece or two for $5.
“She’s got like a bracelet making shop; it’s like a little workshop in her room right now,” her mom said.
Lori said Hayley recruited her friends from school and her neighborhood to help her. Hayley manages a steady production line by calling them each day to divide orders, according to her mother. Hayley and her friends have made about 5,000 bracelets since beginning the fundraiser.
“They only take like two or three minutes if you’re really quick,” Hayley said.
Orlinsky said Hayley uses a bracelet kit from the company Rainbow Loom, which made a “generous donation” and sent her a “ton of supplies” when they heard about the fundraiser. Hayley said customers can ask for specific colors for the bracelets, but often they want her to surprise them. She said Chicago sports team colors are her most popular request.
After Orlinsky posted about her daughter’s fundraiser on Facebook, she raised $1,500 in 6 hours. Some high-profile customers include Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gov. JB Pritzker and “Hamilton” star Miguel Cervantes.
“She made Gov. Pritzker Northwestern colors because he went to Northwestern. Mayor Lightfoot, she made her a Chicago flag bracelet and Bears colors and Sox colors,” Orlinsky said.
Hayley’s fundraiser even earned her a surprise parade with Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th). She said it was “the best day of her life.”
“People have said to us — especially like doctors and nurses at Lurie Children’s have ordered them — that the bracelets represent hope during a really dark time. Also, the country is so divided right now … and I think, no matter who you are or what you believe in, it’s very easy to support a little girl who wants to help a local hospital,” Orlinsky said.
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