'Ryan's Case for Smiles' Had WCU-Ontario In Stitches

Posted on 08/08/2016

An extended hospital stay can be a terrifying and traumatic experience for a child and their family.

That’s why volunteers at West Coast University-Ontario recently teamed up with Ryan’s Case for Smiles to sew more than 100 whimsical pillowcases to help children cope with the stress and emotional impact of being ill.

Hospital Partners:

  • Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern CA
  • Dream Center
  • Kaiser Permanente Hospital
  • Children’s Hospital of LA
  • Miller Children’s Hospital UCLA
  • Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA
  • Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House
  • Huntington Hospital
  • Shriner’s Hospital
  • City of Hope, Duarte

Ashley Wiese, a BSN student and president of the CNSA chapter at WCU-Ontario, learned about Ryan’s Case for Smiles a few years ago while searching for volunteer opportunities and was inspired to learn to sew.

“I was so excited by the organization I would talk about it often to my friends and one donated her sewing machine to me. I now use this machine to provide pillowcases to children in the hospital,” Wiese said.

Founded in 2007, Ryan’s Case for Smiles delivers more than 200,000 pillowcases each year in 330 hospitals around the world. Children and families pick from a wide variety of fabric options to brighten up drab hospital rooms and volunteers from one of the 120 chapters hand deliver the finished pillowcase.

“I was inspired by past sewing days and decided to plan a similar event on campus to include our students. I wanted to share my passion for the organization as well as provide an opportunity for the charity to raise awareness and gain donations,” Wiese added.

At WCU-Ontario there were areas on each floor to cut the colorful fabric or pin it together for sewing. Ryan’s Case for Smiles provided fabric kits, scissors, pins, cutting boards, thread and volunteer sewing instructors.

Students and faculty used 11 sewing machines and three serger sewing machines donated by the Inland Empire and Los Angeles chapters, plus two more sewing machines from WCU students.

"We have them sit down and walk them through sewing a pillowcase,” Wiese said. “Then we teach them how to use a serger sewing machine, which gives the pillowcase edge a nice finish.”

More than 50 students and faculty participated, Wiese added, including WCU-Ontario's Academic Dean Dr. Bart Lerner, Associate Dean of Nursing Academics Sally Mahmoud, Associate Dean of Nursing Administration Michele Cortez as well as the Student Services department, library and registrar.

“We had first-time sewers learning to sew and then turning around to teach others,” Wiese said. “It was also a great role-reversal in which our deans and instructors were learning to sew from their students.”

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