JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville nonprofit is asking for help to give children something to smile about while undergoing medical treatments.
"Ryan's Case for Smiles" puts together pillow cases to make hospital stays more comfortable and colorful for children.
Women who are part of the Jacksonville chapter are planning to hand-sew hundreds of pillow cases for children undergoing medical treatment.
It's a delicate process for an important mission. One that touches the heart of chapter founder Leslie Warner, whose daughter Casey battled childhood cancer.
"While she was in the hospital of course I got to be around a lot of other kids that were in the hospital also getting treatments… and some of the experiences the child life specialists would do for them, would just light up their day," said Leslie Warner, Jacksonville chapter coordinator 'Ryan Case for Smiles'.
When Warner's daughter died, she looked for an opportunity to continue helping the children and families battling childhood illness.
"I already had connections, I had worked with them for years with Casey, so I thought I'm going to do this, pillow cases are an easy thing," said Warner.
She created the Jacksonville chapter of 'Ryan's Case for Smiles'.
The organization partners with four local health centers and volunteers donate time and supplies to make colorful and fun pillow cases.
Every month the group sews, collects, and disinfects hundreds of hand-sewn cases. The chapter partners with four organizations locally; Orange Park Medical Center, Pediatric Unit, Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, UF Proton Therapy Center, and Community Peds Care.
They are delivered to child's life specialists like Joli Craver with Nemours Children's Health.
"Sometimes as you would imagine, appointments don't go as fun or as smooth as the child would want. SO we try to throw in some things to get them excited," said Joli Craver, Child Life Specialist, Nemours Children's Health.
The group typically relies on the yearly Jacksonville Quilt Festival for support, but the fest has been canceled twice due to COVID-19.So they are in need of volunteers and fabric to keep their mission going.
"When they get the pillow cases, this is something they can use immediately if they're going into the hospital, they can take it home. Even though it sounds like such a small thing, it's the small things that add up to totally change a child's perspective on their day," said Craver.
A card is also put in the pillow cases that lists cooping resources for the families.
The group is looking for donors, volunteers, and groups/organizations to partner with. Donations of unwashed fabric for boys and girls age 3 to 16 are accepted as well.