Lake Oswego kids sew for Shriners

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Hallinan fourth-grader Annabelle Hay inspired the gift of homemade gowns to the Shriners in Portland.It’s safe to say: Most people don’t like surgery.

But, what about kids, who may be even more scared about what’s happening?

At many hospitals, children don large, drab surgical gowns designed for adults and endure, in kid time, a much longer wait for a nurse to arrive in their hospital room and escort them to another room where they’ll undergo some scary procedure. Afterward comes a sometimes-long recovery period or maybe more surgeries.

Hallinan Elementary School students are helping soothe some kid patients at the Shriners Hospitals for Children site in REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - From left, Hallinan students Annabelle Hay, Emma Daniels and Taylor Marx show nurse Julie Konze some of the donated gowns.

One Saturday a couple weeks ago, 68 Hallinan students banded together and, under the supervision of about 50 adults and Lake Oswego seamstress Shelly Figueroa, they sewed 75 kid-sized surgical gowns in cheerily patterned cotton fabric for Shriners patients. Seven Hallinan pupils — plus one girl’s sibling from Lake Oswego Junior High — delivered the gowns to Shriners on Friday.

“It feels really cool that kids made something for kids,” Hallinan fourth-grader Annabelle Hay REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - From left, pausing to smile are, front row: Hallinan students Annabelle Hay, Taylor Marx and Emma Daniels; and back row: nurse Julie Konze, nurse Karen Walker, patient care assistant Sofiya Koblik, nurse Elizabeth Brown and certified nurse assistant Mariela Quevedo.

It was Annabelle’s idea.

Annabelle “is a really wonderful young lady who thought our gowns were a little boring,” said Kay Weber-Ekeya, public relations specialist at the Portland Shriners.

The young lady has spent time at Shriners where her orthopedic surgeon, Jeremy Bauer, reattached her dislocated kneecap, and Annabelle, 10, said she thought livelier gowns could comfort other children.

“Shriners gave a lot to me and helped me with my knee surgery, and it’s kind of nice to give something to the kids here,” Annabelle said.

Annabelle’s mom, Margaret Hay, helped her daughter realize her vision, bringing the gown concept to Hallinan’s Parent Teacher Organization and a school program supporting kids’ by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: KAY WEBER - Hallinan fourth-grader Annabelle Hay delivered the schools gown donation into the hands of Radiology department manager Scot Duncil.volunteerism, Hallinan Elementary Hands On Projects Encourage Community Service (HOPES). Businesses in town and from throughout the country donated fabric.

“I’m really proud of her, of course, and I’m glad we were able to take something that was challenging for her — the several surgeries — and do something for the greater good,” Hay said.

Hallinan third-grader Taylor Marx said the idea of helping another child makes her happy.

“Maybe you won’t hurt as much thinking about the girls who made the gowns,” Taylor said.

Hallinan third-grader Annalise Huntington said she likes doing things for other people.

“It just makes me feel like more of a complete person,” Annalise said.

Each gown is personalized with a label Hallinan mom Louise Jaffe created that states: “Handcrafted just for you (with a hug and a smile),” and the child who sewed the gown signed his or her first name with a Sharpy.

Radiology department manager Scot Duncil accepted the Hallinan community’s gift.

“I know you kids could do a lot more things with your time, and I’m glad you’re not spending it on the computer; you’re out here helping the kids at Shriners,” said Duncil, also a Shriner.

Shriners International is a brotherhood of men devoted to family, the group’s website states. The organization administers Shriners Hospitals for Children, which specializes in orthopedics, cleft lip and palate, spinal cord injuries and burn care and has 22 locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In Portland, the group specializes in orthopedics and cleft lip and palate and also offers burn scar care.

Many other groups and individuals reach out to the children at Shriners, although Hallinan’s effort stands out at the Portland locale.

“It’s definitely a unique project,” said Veronica Nguyen, donations coordinator at Shriners. “We’ve never had gowns before.”

Even when the outside community doesn’t step up, a family member is often standing by a Shriners patient, and, staff members aim to be welcoming.

Bauer, who has an 11-month-old son, said the doctors are kind, and “they know it’s scary coming here.”

The employees carefully explain procedures to the children and put up seasonal decorations in hospital rooms.

“It’s a very nice environment — it’s clean; it’s safe,” Bauer said.

Even with all the support, surgery’s no picnic. Shriners staff nurse Elizabeth Brown said the kids meet a lot of people, and they’re in hospital garb. Having something special like the Hallinan gowns “makes them an individual” again.

The children who receive a gown get to keep it.

“I envy the one that gets to keep that one,” said Annabelle, holding up a little, white gown with children parading along the hem.

For more information on Shriners, visit

By Jillian Daley
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