One Chicago seven-year-old is on her way to becoming one of the world’s youngest entrepreneurs. Like many girls her age, Hayley Orlinsky has a knack for making bracelets, and she’s using her skills to raise thousands of dollars for Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, a nationally ranked non-profit pediatric hospital, the very same facility where she was treated when she was first born.
It’s her way of giving back to the many brave men and women fighting to keep her community safe.
Giving Back to Healthcare Workers
Hayley Orlinsky has been acutely aware of the challenges healthcare providers have been facing on the front lines since the start of the pandemic. Like many people sitting at home, she started hearing stories about nurses running low on PPE, a trend that continues in some parts of the country to this day. As her classes went online, she quickly found a way to help during the crisis.
Known for her creativity, Orlinsky started making bracelets, selling them for just $3 each or $5 for an additional charm. Her original goal was just $200, which she quickly surpassed.
Months later, she’s now raised over $22,000 for the local children’s hospital.
All the money goes directly to the donor office at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, where it’s used to buy face masks, goggles, face shields, gloves, and other pieces of PPE.
The family says the facility has a special place in their hearts. Hayley spent the first few days of her life in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit after experiencing breathing problems.
As the pandemic raged on, she wanted the providers working with kids to “protect themselves,” as a way of giving back to the doctors and nurses that saved her life when she was first born.
She’s already made over 8,000 bracelets by hand. She’s gotten so good at making them that she doesn’t even have to look down at her hands. Her four-year-old sister organizes the bands and accessories based on color to keep Hayley organized, while her parents help with the shipping.
Expanding Her Operations
Over the summer, Orlinsky decided she could use the extra help with her growing bracelet enterprise, so she pitched the idea to her Apachi Day Camp, a summer event she’s attended for years. Everyone was quickly on board with the idea.
“It just became a thing that everyone wanted to do,” said Beth Miller, one of the camp directors. “It bonded the kids.”
The operation continues to attract attention from some high-profile customers, including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, actor Miguel Cervantes, who played the lead role in the Chicago production of the hit musical “Hamilton” and players from her favorite sports team, The White Sox.
A friend of the family, Alysson Bourque, was more than happy to buy a bracelet, especially since it was for a good cause. “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.
Hayley is no stranger to the fast-paced world of sales. She was also the top seller of Girl Scout cookies in her local troup.
Lately, she’s been spending most of her time putting bracelets together in between classes on Zoom, watching TV, and doing gymnastics.
The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital couldn’t be more grateful for all the money she’s raised over the last few months, especially at a time when securing funding can be a challenge. Tracey McCusker, associate director of the hospital, says the success of Hayley’s project has surpassed their wildest expectations.
“Her fundraiser is exponentially more than our typical kid fundraiser,” McCusker added, considering the usual kid fundraiser brings in around $500 to $1,000.
As the pandemic continues, Hayley says she’s not giving up her new project any time soon. “I want to do it until coronavirus is over,” she said. “It feels like I’m helping a lot of people.”
Visit the hospital’s website to learn more about Hayley’s Bracelet Fundraiser. Nurses and doctors receive bracelets for free!