By Frank Sojak, Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
Jun. 16–Sheena Endress is a fancy dresser.
When it comes to dressing a wound, nothing washes away the pain better than a colorful bandage dotted with cartoon characters, she says.
For nearly a dozen years, Endress has been collecting cartoon bandages to donate to hospitals for use on children.
Endress’ project, called the Cartoon Band-Aid Drive, has attracted many others to assist her in her cause. The total number of bandages that Endress and the others have donated to hospitals the past 11 years is more than 220,000.
Recently, she donated 4,000 cartoon Band-Aid bandages to Memorial Medical Center. She has another 5,000 that she soon will deliver to Windber Medical Center.
“To see a little child smile when they get a Cartoon Band-Aid is great,” Endress said. “It makes their whole day.”
It is more soothing for children with an injury to have a cartoon bandage covering their wound because the bandages contain the images of cartoon characters that are familiar to them, she said.
“Plus they look cool,” she said. “I still wear them.”
Endress, a 2007 graduate of Windber Area High School, came up with the idea of donating bandages 11 years ago while battling von WilleBrand’s disease, an illness that affects the blood’s ability to clot properly.
During frequent visits to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh to fight the disease, Endress asked the nurses why they used plain brown bandages and not cartoon bandages when they were finished taking blood from her.
She was told that fancy bandages were not in the hospital’s budget.
Endress, 8 years old at the time, then came up with a plan to donate cartoon bandages to the hospital.
Living in Fishertown at the time and a member of the Girl Scouts, she asked her mother, Susan, her troop’s leader, if they could start a project to collect cartoon bandages for the hospital.
Endress received permission and the first year her troop, with the help of several neighboring troops, collected 5,000 bandages for Children’s Hospital.
The program has become a tradition in Fishertown with Girl Scouts collecting about 200,000 bandages in 11 years.
The troops offer badges to girls for their efforts. The badge is dedicated to Endress and to the late Kay Lynn Lohr, a Girl Scout leader who was instrumental in the project.
Although Endress moved to Windber four years ago, the Girls Scouts in Fishertown continue to collect bandages, donating them to UPMC Bedford Memorial and Children’s Hospital.
“I’m very glad that they are still doing so,” she said. “That shows how much they care about others.”
Endress now collects them on her own with her mother and sister, Lindsey, donating them to Memorial and Windber medical centers and West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.
They collected 13,000 this year.
She said the donations through the years have come from people in the community who drop boxes of bandages off at containers placed at businesses and workplaces.
Endress, who will graduate in August from IUP’s Culinary School in Punxsutawney, has landed a position as a chef at a Colorado resort. She plans to continue the project there.
For her efforts, Endress is the Person of the Week.
Amy Bradley, a spokeswoman for Memorial Medical Center, said they are impressed with Endress’ commitment and generosity.
“She presented a wide variety of fun Band-Aids that our young patients will really enjoy.”
Dr. Daniel Wehner, chairman of Memorial’s emergency department, said it’s wonderful that Endress has been able to use her experience to help children.
“The cartoon Band-Aids are definitely a great way to help put children at ease during a difficult and sometimes painful situation, so we’ll definitely make good use of them in our emergency room.”
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