Maddie Wolin knew she wanted to do something special for her mitzvah project.
Wolin, who turned 13 on Dec. 15, found her idea through longtime friends whom she sees only once a year.
“I go to Aruba every summer in February, and we’ve always had this group of friends that live in Canada,” Wolin said. “They had founded this charity, and they said to me, ‘Maddie, would you like to do something like this on Long Island?'”
Wolin’s friends Lexi and Amanda Benlolo were the founders of the Pampered Pillowcase, a charity that sees them fill pillowcases full of ‘pampering’ items for women in need, in order to “make a women feel special and ultimately pampered.”
The Canadian friends started the charity in 2014 in their hometown of York Region, Ontario, and had branches in Kingston, Ontario, Fair Haven, New Jersey, and New York City before asking Wolin to found a Long Island branch.
Wolin, already experienced with giving back to the community through Student Advisory at her school, saw the offer as a chance to use her creativity for the better.
“I play the guitar and I sing in a rock band, at School of Rock,” Wolin said. “And I want to do something creative when I’m older, so it fit.”
After deciding on the project, Wolin chose to donate the finished pillowcases to the Bethany House in Roosevelt, an emergency shelter for homeless women and children founded by the Dominican Sisters of Amityville.
Wolin and her mother then started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the project, and donations began pouring in, easily matching their $1,500 goal. The seventh-grader then used the money to buy items from Amazon, Target and Odd Lot, and enlisted her friends to help fill the pillowcases.
“I had a party for my birthday and I invited some of my friends to help pack,” Wolin said. “I had all the items lined up, and I read them a little bit about my charity and told them how important it was to me.”
Each of the 26 pillowcases, which will go to either a mother or child in one of the four houses at Bethany House, contains pajamas, slippers, socks, children’s books, nail polish, lip balm, scarves, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other items, as per the charity’s model in Canada. Wolin herself made one major addition to pillowcases going to the mothers.
“We got these gratitude journals for the women, where every day they could write stuff and it has positive quotes in it,” Wolin said. “I put that in because I like to read this stuff, and I feel like if someone reads the quotes, each day it just makes your life that much better.”
Wolin’s bat mitzvah is in January, but she says she’d like to continue with the project in the future, with a goal including giving a pillowcase to all 85 mothers and children at Bethany House.
“I feel like the kids my age wanted to make more,” Wolin said. “And there are more places like Bethany House on Long Island. I don’t want to stop until everyone gets one.”