CHICAGO — A rubber band, bracelet-making 2nd-grader is proving nothing is impossible. With determination and spunk, she’s faced the pandemic by raising funds for frontline health care workers.
“I like the rainbow ones cuz those are probably my favorite colors,” said Hayley Orlinsky.
Making colorful rubber band bracelets has become second nature for the 7-year-old girl.
“I can do it in my sleep,” she said.
Her mom, Lori, says she was surprised at how long it kept Orlinsky's interest.
“I initially thought this would keep her busy for a few hours, and then I thought maybe a few days," she said. "This has kept her busy for 10 months."
But it wasn’t just a way to pass the time during the pandemic.
Hearing about the shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers in March, this 7-year-old decided she needed to do something.
“I wanted to help but I didn't know how, but I knew it, everybody loved bracelets, so I ran up to my room and I made these friendship bracelets," she said. "And I told my mom that I want to sell these and raise money for one of the hospitals."
Orlinsky's original goal was to raise a modest $200 for the hospital where she was born. But after mom posted to Facebook, it took off.
“I put a video on Facebook,” said Lori Orlinsky. “People started sharing it; within four hours, it was up to $1,500.”
Over the summer, Orlinsky enlisted the help of her 400 fellow summer campers.
“Every day, we would come home with like 10, 20 bracelets cuz everybody in the downtime, they would be making bracelets to help me,” she recalled.
Kids in Texas, Ohio and across the country have also joined in.
“I donate these little Alycat charms to try to help her make more money,” says Louisiana resident Alysson Bourque, who’s kids have contributed to the effort. “Seeing her connect people at a time where we felt so disconnected was such an inspiration.”
Charging $3 per bracelet and $5 for one with an additional charm, the fundraising phenom has raised $30,000 in the last 10 months.
“It's more than the tooth fairy gives,” she acknowledged.
The fundraising phenom has gotten the attention of politicians, Broadway actors and professional athletes.
“Yeah, I could really use a manicure,” said Orlinsky.
Manicure or not, this plucky 2nd-grader has no plans to stop now.
Ask Orlinsky how long she’ll keep going and she’s quick to answer.
“I wanna do it 'til everybody’s vaccinated and COVID is over," she said.