Every year, thousands of children are admitted into the hospital for urgent care, long-term stay and emergency procedures. Crafting For a Cure is a not-for-profit registered charity that looks for opportunities to ensure children are having a positive experience when a hospital visit is necessary, regardless of the reason.
On November 17, Brock students were invited to a Craft-A-Thon organized by the Brock Crafting For a Cure club, a university chapter of the charity. The purpose of the event was for students to create an assortment of holiday crafts, such as ornaments and cards. The crafts will be donated to children throughout the Niagara Region that will be spending time in the hospital during the holiday season.
“The hospital can be a scary place,” said Gabriella Banfield, the Vice President of Brock Crafting For a Cure. “So our hope is to make it a little brighter and happier for the kids.”
Banfield explained that “although students may not be able to make a monetary donation, [they can instead] donate their time with making crafts and still make a difference.”
The Brock club, which began only three years ago, focuses on creating and supplying craft-kits for children and youth that are in emergency rooms, clinic treatment rooms, operating waiting rooms and mental health clinics. In return, Brock students get to experience a variety of face-to-face volunteer opportunities doing crafts with children in the hospitals around the Niagara Region.
“Our club started out with only eight members,” said Ustat Paintal, the club’s President. “In a few short years we now have 39 registered members and we are growing every year.”
The Craft-A-Thon, held at the Grounds Cafe in The Lofts apartment buildings, welcomed roughly 40 students to a relaxing evening with coffee, acoustic music and craft making, all for the purpose of providing joy to children in hospitals. The Craft-A-Thon even had its own unique Snapchat filter to encourage students to participate.
“Tonight’s goal is production versus funds,” said Paintal. “The more [crafts] we have, the more children’s faces we can put a smile on. Happiness often times [means] more than money.”
“This is an amazing opportunity to be involved [with] in the Brock community and to give back in a meaningful way,” said Rachel Quinn, a second-year Brock student in attendance.
This year, along with creating crafts for donation, Brock Crafting For a Cure partnered with Textbooks for Change to encourage students to donate used textbooks in order to send the books to children around the world that are in less fortunate situations.
“It’s awesome to be partnered with this event [because] Crafting For a Cure is a great cause,” said Anmol Panesar, the Head Campus Ambassador for Textbooks for Change, “It started with one person and it’s wonderful how it blossomed into something so big.”
Panesar explained that Textbooks for Change is passionate about empowering children’s education around the world and that more than 50 per cent of the donated books go to children in East Africa. For the remaining percentage of books, Panesar said that the organization resells them to students at the lowest prices, making the material affordable and therefore accessible for more students.
“Why not make a difference?” asked Abhay Mason, the Textbooks for Change Logistics Coordinator.
The Founder of Crafting For a Cure, Pamela Bielak, was also in attendance at the Craft-A-Thon.
“This all started because of my children,” explained Bielak. “My son was a sick kid and when I was visiting hospitals I began to notice that I didn’t like how one type of illness was being treated better than another. All kids should all be treated equally when at the hospital, they should all be made to smile.”
Bielak mentioned that Crafting For a Cure has been running for a long time but it was only five years ago that it officially become a registered charity. The charity currently creates craft kits for 90 hospitals in five countries, and has several more program initiatives such as supporting teenagers struggling with mental health.
“I use the Brock club as a teaching tool for the other clubs at different universities,” said Bielak.