Howard pupils make gifts for hospitalized youths

December 14, 1992|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Dismay spread over seventh-grader Katie McGuigam's bright face as she looked at her hands and saw what she had created: a disaster, a big knot of red thread that looped around a button eye of a sock puppet.

"Look what I did," she said worriedly, looking around for her teacher. "Guess I'll have to give this to Mrs. Greenwald."

It wasn't the first disaster she and two other Hammond Middle School students created as they learned to make hand puppets and duffel bags, which they hope to give to sick children at the Johns Hopkins pediatric unit in Baltimore. Try after try, they worked on the little bags, only to rip seams apart and sew drawstrings together. But they're almost finished, and are they glad.

The project sprang from a gifted and talented research class headed by resource teacher Patricia Greenwald, who got the idea from her sister, a nurse. "She told me the kids in the hospital have so many needs, especially that parents can't be there with them all the time," she said. "Kids get more depressed and nurses have to run to get more pills."

Now the girls say the harder part is looking for donations, finding enough toys and knickknacks to fill 60 yellow, red and blue bags. They need pre-school toys, coloring books and crayons for 2- to 5-year-olds; yo-yos, little girls' makeup, stickers and stuffed animals for 6- to 8-year-olds; and puzzle books, koosh balls, baseball cards and dolls for 9- to 12-year-olds. They hope such trinkets will keep young patients occupied as they lie in hospital beds -- sometimes, for months.

"We want to do as much as possible to help them keep their minds off their illnesses," said Katie.

The girls, including seventh-graders Shimul Patel and Mazna Hussain, have written to the makers of Crayola crayons and Elmer's glue to ask for donations. And they're planning to hold a bake sale at school to raise money.

The project required them to find a problem in the community, research it and then come up with a product to solve it. Others in the class are working with nursing homes and homeless shelters, and still others have chosen to delve into historical problem-solving and research. The girls didn't figure their problems would include sewing the bags, said Shimul, 12.

"And looking for the address to Johns Hopkins," said Mazna, also 12. "You'd be surprised how many addresses to Johns Hopkins there are."

The project is teaching the girls more than problem-solving, said Mrs. Greenwald. "The kids are getting aware of what needs there are in the community."

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