Volunteer uses his passion and talent to bring comfort to children battling cancer

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‘I have to do something. I can’t sit around feeling sorry for myself,’ says heart transplant recipient who sews colorful, festive pillowcases to help comfort children

Being in a hospital can be a lonely and scary experience for any child. Dark rooms feature beep machines, cold metal, corporate colors, and a parade of strangers in white coats and other attire.

A local non-profit, Comfy Cases, is looking to bring some comfort and maybe even a smile or two to young patients at local hospitals.

Comfy Cases is a small community program under the auspices of Ontario Parents Advocating for Children with Cancer. Her goal is to spread joy and comfort to hospitalized children undergoing treatment for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses through the donation of colorful, festive pillowcases.

Kaaren Brandt is from Severn Bridge and she has been a volunteer, for almost 20 years, through the various iterations of the organisation. As the hustle and bustle of life has crept in over the years, she still finds herself sewing pillowcases for children.

A recent heart transplant recipient, she is grateful for the meaningful work she can do to support Comfy Cases.

“I have to do something. I can’t sit around feeling sorry for myself, otherwise I would be dead,” she says with the laugh of someone who has been through a lot.

“Right after I had my transplant a year ago in November – right after I got home that first month, I was bored and started rummaging through my stash (of tissue). I couldn’t not shopping because COVID was getting kinda dumb, and I started going crazy again doing it. I was active again. I’m going gangbusters now. It’s almost addictive,” Brandt says.

She does paid sewing projects for other people, but every time she walks into her sewing room, she almost automatically finds herself going through pillowcase fabrics and matching one side with the other. . “The next thing you know is an hour later and I’m going, ‘I have work to do,'” she said.

The work of Brandt and other dedicated volunteers is well received at local hospitals, and the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital is no exception.

“The lady from Orillia Soldiers (Amanda Gaudet) is always so happy every time I drop them off. She is so grateful and always sends me a note to say thank you so much,” says Brandt.

If you are thinking of donating fabric to Comfy Cases, the members of the organization would be delighted and have sent clear information on what they are looking for.

“All fabrics must be 100% cotton. Polyester is 100% recycled plastic, so anything containing polyester cannot withstand the heat of the sterilizer,” says Brandt. “It must be made of cotton because it withstands the heat. It must also be a new fabric.

Themed fabrics are also popular, like seasonal prints, for example, and Halloween is always a big winner with kids, she says.

Anyone in the North Simcoe-Muskoka area interested in sewing pillowcases is warmly welcomed. For more information, email Brandt at [email protected] Those from outside the region can contact Comfy Cases directly at [email protected]

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