Ten-year-old Dannen Rose helped collect more than 300 pairs of pajamas to donate to patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital. The Homewood girl got help from her mom, Danielle Bowens, as well as some neighbors who rallied around to help the cause.
Nothing beats comfortable pajamas, especially when you’re feeling crummy. Dannen Rose’s favorite PJs are a cozy fleece set with unicorns on them.
Dannen, 10, thought other kids might like to have new pajamas, especially kids who were sick and stuck in the hospital.
The Homewood girl launched a fundraising effort that brought in more than 300 pairs of pajamas, which she and her mom, Danielle Bowens, delivered to Lurie Children’s Hospital on Saturday, Dec. 15.
“It was all Dannen’s idea,” Bowens said. “She has been asking to do it for the last two to three years, but she always asks right at Christmas and there’s not enough time.”
This year they got started early, but things got off to a slow start. Bowens, who had originally posted about the fundraiser on the Moms and Dads of Homewood-Flossmoor Facebook page, posted again to say they were calling off their collection.
Jodi Shepard-Strait didn’t see Bowens’ first post, but she saw the second.
“I said, ‘Whoa, I didn’t see this the first time,’” Shepard-Strait said. “I told her she should extend it and try it again and I would help her. At the very least, it didn’t take me anything to repost it.”
Here’s the thing — Bowens doesn’t know Shepard-Strait. She never met her or talked to her before the pajama collection.
Shepard-Strait said she admired what Bowens was doing with Dannen and she wanted to help, even though she’s busy with her own children of 19, 17, 13 and 3.
“My mom used to take us to a nursing home to volunteer when I was a kid,” Shepard-Strait said. “You don’t appreciate it until you’re older. I want to start doing more stuff like this with my kids.”
Shepard-Strait, of Homewood, recruited her “rock star” friend Valerie Miller to help. With donations from the community, they collected more than 300 pairs of fleece, cotton and jersey jammies from infant through adult sizes, decorated with festive pink snowflakes, Paw Patrol characters and hunter’s plaid.
Bowens said the hospital representative asked that all the pajamas be brand new with tags, two-piece style with button-down fronts, so they can be opened for medical purposes. Baby items had to have snaps, not buttons.
They received a few donations that fell outside those parameters and Bowens said those would be donated to a local women’s shelter.
They collected and delivered the pajamas in time for Lurie’s Holiday Spectacular on Dec. 19, a special holiday party for patients and their parents, where they’ll be distributed.
“If you collect money, you figure some most likely won’t go to the kids,” Dannen said when asked why she decided to collect pajamas.
She said her mom showed her a story on social media about someone else collecting pajamas for kids. Bowens doesn’t remember that moment, but it stuck in Dannen’s mind
Dannen herself was once a very young medical patient. She was born premature at 31 weeks and spent eight weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit before being released. More recently, she was hospitalized for pneumonia and remembers wearing an ugly hospital gown.
“If you think about it, they’re probably sleeping in those hospital gowns for the whole week,” Dannen said. “And they’re not warm.”