A community partnership between two Hoffman Estates companies took place last week, but in the eyes of one 8-year-old girl, it all came down to this: color and fashion.
Gabrielle Wesley was among the children who came down from the pediatric unit at the Alexian Brothers Women and Children's Hospital to see the new interactive sculpture installed in the lobby.
She loved standing at the dock and pressing the buttons to make the flower blossoms move. But it was the colors, she said, that she liked the most, and she noted that they matched her pink barrette.
It turns out that was no accident.
The kinetic sculpture was commissioned with a major donation from Claire's, headquartered in Hoffman Estates, and the petals seem to reflect many of the embellishments on the company's jewelry and headbands.
J. Per Brodin, its executive vice president and CFO, said the corporate gift was an extension of their partnership with Alexian Brothers, that started last year, when the hospital opened.
"Our associates wanted to partner with the hospital in an ongoing basis," Brodin said, "and we started by providing goody bags."
He described them as an extension of the company's vision, which is to empower girls and encourage them to express their own unique, individual styles.
Since Claire's specializes in fashion jewelry and accessories for young girls and teens, its goody bags contain some of its more popular items, including barrettes, sunglasses, bracelets and a journal.
More than 400 associates work at Claire's corporate headquarters on Central Road in Hoffman Estates, which also serves as its main distribution center where all of its merchandise is routed to stores.
Shortly after the Women and Children's Hospital opened last year, a team of associates worked to fill more than 500 bags, and then delivered them to the hospital. They have continued to replenish them as needed.
"They're a big hit," says Mary Kate Dvorak, one of the hospital's child life specialists. "We give them to girls who are in that specific age range. They really enjoy them. It's a good distraction and helps to make the hospital not as scary."
Claire's associates also provide special events for pediatric patients, such as at Halloween and Christmastime. They set up parties in the teen lounge and playroom, and provide activities with prizes and even help to apply makeup for costumes.
Melanie Furlan, vice president of the Alexian Brothers Foundation, said the success of the partnership with Claire's, has led them to a new dilemma: how to find a similar partner that empowers young boys and teens.
"Anything we can do to create a more engaging and less clinical atmosphere," Furlan said, "goes a long way in helping the children we serve."