BISMARCK, N.D. — The familiar sound of sewing machines fills the classroom; students are hard at work sewing pieces of pink, blue and purple fabric into garments fit for a Disney princess.
Family and consumer science teacher Jess Bentz led her advanced fashion students in a community service project to make princess dresses for patients at Sanford Children’s Hospital.
“It’s always nice to do things for others,” Bentz said.
An average of 12 children ranging from 10 months to 17 years old are on the children’s floor of Sanford for a usual stay of about five days, depending on the illness. Bentz’s advanced fashion class wanted to provide something fun for the patients to do to take their thoughts away from whatever illness they may have.
“The best part is doing something for others in need that appreciate it,” Bentz said.
The donation of the dress-up clothing will complement the themes and activities at the children’s hospital.
“It will be really nice to have something like that,” Sanford Children’s Hospital manager Randi Schaeffer said.
The nurses station is in the shape of a pirate ship with portholes as cubbies that provide activities for kids, as well as a play tree designed like the one from the Lost Boys’ forest in “Peter Pan.”
“We have a really nice playroom for kids that is themed like Wendy’s bedroom from ‘Peter Pan,’ ” Schaeffer said.
The advanced fashion class constructed eight dress-up outfits inspired by Disney characters to donate to patients at the children’s hospital.
“When they’re sick they like to use their imagination and fantasy,” Schaeffer said.
Advanced fashion student junior Tiffany Lacher enjoyed making the costumes as part of the community service project.
“I learned a lot about constructing dresses from the project,” Lacher said. “We had to help out with the whole project pretty much. Each group made two dresses, so you had to help out with everything from sewing to ironing to running elastic through the sleeves or neckline.”
Bentz enjoys conducting community service projects with her advanced fashion classes and has had past classes make coloring totes for the Abused Adult Resource Center, duffle bags and quilts for Make-A-Wish kids, gowns for a traveling mammogram service, pillowcases for troops and Century mittens, which were sold and the money made was donated to a local charity.
“It teaches about mass production and marketing, like with the mittens,” Bentz said.
She involved her interior design class in the project as well as Jeff Schumacher’s woodworking class. The woodworking class is constructing a dresser to store the dress-up clothing.
“This class is a mature class and I really like the direction they’re going,” Schumacher said.
“It’s an interdisciplinary unit so we can tie in other academic areas.”
Schumacher’s classes have done prior community service projects such as a homeless awareness project, where they constructed cutouts of homeless-looking individuals, painted them black and placed them around Bismarck-Mandan. After a certain amount of money was raised, the cutouts were taken down.
“They are trying to help out other people,” Schumacher said.
In housing and interior design, students submitted drawings of a style for the dresser and then voted to pick a design to base the dresser from. Sophomore Kenzie Metzger drew the winning design for the dresser.
“I wanted to create a dresser that was fun for the kids, that they could use their imagination with,” Metzger said. “The crazy design on the top makes it look kid-friendly and the drawers underneath let them hide secret things away.”
Interior design student sophomore Ashley Leier enjoyed the process of drawing and choosing a design for the dresser and is excited to finish the project.
“I want to see what the whole thing looks like when it’s finished,” Leier said.
Bentz plans on funding the wardrobe through the money raised by the DY photo booth that was at the winter formal and has purchased the supplies for the dresses herself. She hopes to have the dress-up clothing and dresser donated to the children at Sanford by the end of May.
“I am very excited,” Schaeffer said. “Remember how much fun you have when you got to do dress up?”
Schaeffer appreciates the numerous community service projects done for the children’s hospital through different groups in the community.
“We have tons of them and thank goodness we do,” Schaeffer said. “We have the schools and churches that make fleece blankets for the kids and those are such a comfort to them.”
Sanford Hospital also is opening the first castle clinic in North Dakota in north Bismarck sometime this summer.
“The community is growing really quickly and we need more room for pediatric care,” Sanford pediatrician Melissa Seibel said. “The theme goes along with Sanford castle and care theme, it’s whimsical and makes it a place more fun for a place that maybe isn’t so fun.”
The clinic will be available for patients ranging from birth to age 18 for all acute illnesses and an integration of mental health care.
“It will have the bright colors of a fun castle inside,” Sanford Children’s Clinic manager Patty Flohr said. “There will be a lot of fun things for the kids.”
The eight dress-up costumes also will provide a fun activity for kids while staying at Sanford Children’s Hospital. The advanced fashion students constructed princess costumes for Disney characters such as Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Tinkerbell, Minnie Mouse, Jasmine, Rapunzel and Jessie from “Toy Story.”
“It’s nice to give these kids something they can have in a place that isn’t so fun,” Lacher said.