Pediatric hospital rooms at Edward Hospital in Naperville are becoming brighter one piece of bed linen at a time.
A Naperville woman, her twin sister and a friend are sewing roughly 60 pillowcases a month and giving them to the hospital in a project they call KaLaCares.
"We've always been very much in the field of giving," said Karen Butz of Naperville, who started the project with her sister, Laura Seyfarth of Mill Valley, California. "We both loved the idea of making a difference, even if only for a moment, in a child's life."
The project began this spring when Butz's friend, Sung Pak of Naperville, showed her how to sew a simple pillowcase and directed her to a YouTube tutorial to perfect the technique.
"It was so fun I couldn't wait to teach my sister how to make it," Butz said.
The former Rosen twins always have been creative, once running a jewelry line called KaLa Rosen Designs that was sold at Bloomingdale's. They shut down that business when Seyfarth moved to California, but soon the sisters were on a hunt for a new artistic endeavor. The pillowcase project fit the bill.
The sisters contacted Candace Olander, director of the Healing Arts program at Edward Hospital, to see if the hospital could find any use for donated pillowcases.
Despite regulations about sanitation and Olander's impression that the project had a "one-in-a-million chance" of approval, the hospital did Butz and Seyfarth one better. Instead of just accepting donated pillowcases, Edward asked for 60 a month and promised to pay the sisters back the $8 it costs to make each one from the community benefit fund, Olander said.
"They're colorful, they're fun, they're individual, and I just think it's a great idea," Olander said.
Butz washes each pillowcase before giving it to the hospital. Once each case is put on a bed and a patient comes in, that child gets to take it home.
The project is gaining steam quickly.
The Naperville Noon Lions Club has jumped on board by donating stuffed lions and books from Anderson's Bookshop to be given to each child along with the pillowcases, publicity chairman Bob Hull said. And Butz taught the sewing technique to make the pillowcases to several women involved with the Lions Club. They're already calling asking her when they can get together to sew next.
"The amazing thing here is how quickly everyone hopped on," Butz said.
She and Seyfarth still are trying to decide where they want to take it next. Should KaLaCares become a nonprofit organization? Should they recruit more quilters to increase their output for Edward? Should they donate to more organizations such as Families Helping Families or Loaves & Fishes Community Services? Should they teach the pillowcase-sewing skill to people who have been helped by one of these nonprofits so they, in turn, can give back?
"We have our project," Butz said. "Now where do we want to go with it?"