Kailee Brabant spent much of this past summer looming bracelet after colorful Rainbow Loom bracelet, a fad among her preteen peers. But as the heap of rubber-band jewelry grew higher, she began to wonder what she would do with it all.
“And then it came to me,” she wrote in a description of her fledgling effort to send the bracelets to children with cancer, including a relative of a teacher at her school. “I could send them to sick children who maybe are not strong enough to make them, and that’s when I created Loom for Love.”
The 11-year-old, a sixth-grade student at Springs School, quickly secured permission from Principal Eric Casale upon the start of this school year to post fliers seeking help from her fellow students and the school community to make the bracelets. Her goal was to whip up 500 by Thanksgiving and another 500 by Christmas.
Those targets, however, were quickly surpassed.
“In two days, she collected over 500 bracelets,” said Jodie Hallman, a first-grade teacher at the school, who helped Kailee spread the word. “It was a tremendous outpouring of support from the students. It was awesome.”
Ms. Hallman’s cousin’s daughter, Ashley (Ms. Hallman declined to share her last name), only 4 years old, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia this fall. About a week later, one of Kailee’s Loom for Love posters caught the teacher’s eye in a hallway.
“She wanted to put smiles on the faces of kids who weren’t feeling so good,” Ms. Hallman recalled this week. Although Kailee had never been her student (her older sister, Kasey, had), Ms. Hallman lent a hand, guiding Kailee and working with her on her presentation to the school, a pitch that raked in more than $200 in donations alone, the teacher said.
A donation jar filled up not just with money, but also with the bands themselves.
“The kids were literally coming off the bus, taking them off their wrists and putting them right in the donation jar,” Ms. Hallman said.
Loom for Love spread its first smiles over Thanksgiving.
Ms. Hallman traveled to Maine for the holiday last week, taking two baskets to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, where Ashley is being treated. One basket was filled with looms and rubber bands to make the bracelets, while the other was filled with ready-made bracelets bearing labels of compassion from Springs School.
The effect was magical.
Within minutes, three children in the cancer unit playroom were sitting around a table with their parents looming bracelets, she said. “It was beautiful…When I delivered those baskets and saw those kids smile…it was bigger than I imagined it could be.”
The effort at Springs is only just getting started, however.
On Thursday, December 12, Kailee and her family plan to travel to the Stony Brook Children’s Cancer Center to deliver more bracelets and looms—just in time for the cancer wing’s holiday party on December 16.
“I think she’s an angel with a big heart,” said Kailee’s mother, Kristy Brabant. “She’s one of those very sensitive kids that doesn’t like it when someone might say something to hurt someone’s feelings, so it doesn’t surprise me that she would do something like this.”
As of Monday, Kailee’s bracelets tallied 934, including ones made by her and those donated by other kids, according to her mother.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said her father, Patrick Brabant, who added that Kailee also used some money she earned from dog-sitting over the summer to buy more bands and looms. He noted that Sag Harbor students are also joining in.
The whole Brabant family has since gotten into the act.
Ms. Brabant, at first feeling under great pressure to craft hundreds of looms from kits in just weeks, said she felt she had to learn to make the bracelets, too. She is fashioning the bands into lanyards, which teachers are buying. The money is going toward more gift baskets, she said.
Kailee’s sisters, Kasey, 14, and Kassidy, 9, and their brother, PJ, 6, are all weaving bracelets. PJ skips the loom altogether, opting for two fingers instead, which his mother says he finds easier.
In addition to the donation drop-off at Springs, there is also one at Steph’s Stuff, a toy store in East Hampton Village that has helped the cause.
Up next on Kailee’s list are Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“This young lady just really had the foresight for this amazing project,” said Ms. Hallman. “She acted on something that really has made a difference for kids that are not feeling well.”
Those interested in donating to Loom for Love are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the new website, loom4love.com.