By Janee Law
Whether it’s Batman, Superman or Captain America, student members of the St. Anthony’s High School Supers Club are cutting and stitching up symbols of hope to create pillows for hospital-ridden children.
Every Wednesday, the group of more than 25 members come together and are arranged into different stations for tracing out the symbols, cutting them out of the fabric, sowing the materials together and then stuffing them to make a superhero-themed pillow, Olivia Gatto, senior club president, said.
Gatto, 17, of Huntington, said the superhero theme is a symbol of what they’re trying to bring children.
“We try to provide a sense of hope for kids who are sick in a hospital who might be bored not knowing when they’ll be able to go back home,” Gatto said. “If they see a superhero or something that’s familiar, I think it helps them feel at home or at peace within the hospital.”
The club started four years ago by former student Hannah McGowan, Gatto said. She added that McGowan wanted to create something that helped children at local hospitals using skills that students have already developed in their family consumer science class. Along with pillows, students also make superhero themed cards.
“It’s something that for me is really inspiring because they’re teenagers and their lives are so busy and for them to stop and think about a kid from 5-10 years old that’s in need at a hospital, is very special,” Christopher Baer, club moderator and theology and religion teacher, said. “I would say just the fact that they’re focusing on that kind of niche is inspiring to me.”
When the club initially started, Gatto said, it consisted of a few students but has grown in numbers. She added through word-of-mouth and social media, club members were able to expand its numbers.
“Kids come every week and they’re all so close,” she said. “We always have fun, listen to music, and make pillows. It’s never a bad time so kids get really excited and really want to come to the club.”
Since they started up four years ago, the club has crafted and handed out more than 175 pillows to children at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip. They hope to make more than 110 pillows this year, with plans to have them delivered within the next month. Gatto said they also hope to expand their reach to Stony Brook University Hospital in the future.
Baer said the mission is to bring awareness that there are local kids who are in need.
“It’s not so much that we’re bringing attention with what we’re doing but attention to the fact that there are kids whose lives are really rough,” Baer said. “Hopefully it will bring attention to other high school students even beyond St. Anthony’s that there’s a place for them to be able to serve in this way.”
For this year, Gatto hopes to reach their goal of creating more than 110 pillows and to deliver more in the future.
“I really enjoy having the opportunity to help change the community and getting together with a close knit group of friends,” Gatto said. “I don’t believe there’s no action too small, so even something as small as pillows for kids just to be comfortable in a hospital setting is what makes me happy. It helps me go about my day.”