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Penn Wood Students Help to Put Smiles on the Faces of Children with Life-Changing Illnesses

Liz Koshgerian, Penn Wood students, Dr. Ellen Gacomis, principal, and Jeff Pearsall, school counselor, dis

Liz Koshgerian (second from left,) Penn Wood students, Dr. Ellen Gacomis, principal, and Jeff Pearsall, school counselor, display pillowcases in front of the Wall of Smiles as part of the Ryan’s Case for Smiles fundraiser.


Students at Penn Wood Elementary School recently raised nearly $2500 for Ryan's Case for Smiles to help make a difference in the lives of children suffering from traumatic, life-changing illnesses.  Over the course of a week, students brought in donations that will be used to purchase fabric to make bright, colorful pillowcases for young patients at Philadelphia area children's hospitals, including Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, St. Christopher’s, and Nemours /Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children.

Ryan's Case for Smiles began in 2007 after founder and CEO Cindy Kerr lost her son Ryan to osteosarcoma. Recognizing how stressful such illnesses can be, Kerr created the non-profit to bring comfort and support to young patients and their families. The uplifting prints help to brighten hospital rooms and remind patients that their illnesses do not define them.

"Our focus is to help children smile and help their families get through these traumatic illnesses," said Liz Koshgerian, finance manager for Ryan's Case for Smiles and Penn Wood parent of two.

Koshgerian said that once the pillowcases are delivered to area hospitals, the young patients will get to select their favorite and a choose a smile decorated by Penn Wood students. The smiles are currently on display on a bulletin board at the school.

Ryan's Case for Smiles relies solely on volunteers to help sew the pillowcases. Koshgerian said young patients are also given the opportunity to make them if hospitals allow it.

The Wayne, Pennsylvania based non-profit currently has 120 chapters and provides pillowcases to 363 hospitals. Approximately 1.7 million pillowcases have been delivered since the charity began.

For more information, or to volunteer, visit