How A Group of Students Use Their Passion for Fashion to Fundraise for Lurie Children’s Hospital


Elsie Cohen

The three Latin4Lurie co-heads pose in front of their sales tent at Romans Run.

Many Upper School community members have seen the organization Latin4Lurie (L4L) fundraising by selling upcycled clothes in the Learning Commons, but few know just how much work goes into fulfilling their mission. The organization turns its passion for fashion into raising money and awareness for Chicago’s Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Lily Prostic ‘21 and Lily Harris ‘22 started L4L, and it is now run by Latin seniors Elsie Cohen and Ulla Ciaccio and junior Oliva Harris. They devote much of their time, inside and outside of school, to running this nonprofit.

This year, the co-heads narrowed their mission to support Lurie Children’s Access For Every Child Fund from the greater Lurie Children’s Hospital so they could support a specific sector of Lurie Children’s fundraising. This sector assists children and their families in affording the medical care they need, regardless of the cost.

L4L sales typically take place around the time of any big school event, especially before sporting events. The main sales occur before the Homecoming games and the “Big Games,” which in recent years have been at DePaul University. In addition, L4L added another sale at last year’s US field day frenzy, where they raised $300.

Historically, the group has succeeded in selling their merchandise, but the nonprofit’s success has been particularly high this year, due to a breakthrough day of sales at the Homecoming events because of their ability to reach parents. Throughout the entire weekend, they raised $700 for charity.

“In the past, we weren’t allowed to reach parents as much,” Elsie said. “We had one [sale] at the end of the year, the field day frenzy, that no one came to. Last year [L4L] didn’t make as much as we hoped to, and this year at Homecoming, we made more than we made all of last year.”

Ulla said, “Mr. [Tim] Cronister [Director of Student Life] suggested that we do a raffle for just one item.” This idea incentivized donating money to a good cause in hopes of winning a new piece of clothing.

“At Homecoming, there were a bunch of parents who work with Lurie’s who were coming up to us offering their help and setting us up with people in the hospital,” Ulla said. At this year’s Romans Run, the co-heads connected with a parent who pointed them in the direction of Lurie’s Access For Every Child Fun.

Executing such a successful operation requires lots of work, most of which happens behind closed doors. But that hard work starts within the school. Scouring for valuable clothing basics is the first step in transforming old clothes into new, fashionable ones.

L4L relies heavily on donations. Elsie said, “We have a ton of donations from the school like old jerseys.” Jerseys are often cut apart, and the numbers and letters are recycled onto new pieces.

A blue paint-splattered sweatshirt with a repurposed Latin Romans patch. (Elsie Cohen)

Elsie said, “Each piece takes a couple of hours, not all in one go, but in general, we try to add more than one aspect of change to a thing.” Some examples of their transformative techniques include bleaching, patching together disparate fabrics, and bedazzling. Some of the more intricate pieces, especially bedazzled ones, can take up to eight hours to finish.

Because the articles can take so long to make, L4L has a team of around 15 students who help with the designs.

Freshman Myles Antelis said, “[I] joined Latin4Lurie because creating designs is something that I love, and it is for a good cause.”

Similarly, junior Emma Dumas said, “My favorite part about this club is having the opportunity to help people.”

However, achieving their goal of raising money and awareness for Lurie’s comes with its own set of challenges.

Ulla said, “Latin [has] copyrighted a certain shade of orange, [so we’re] not allowed to use any of the Latin logos, including the Roman head.” Another struggle the co-heads face is motivating people interested in joining L4L to come to meetings, which are held during clubs blocks and sometimes after school.

“At Latin, there’s this consensus that ‘everyone needs to be part of a club for college applications without putting the effort in,’ [and] there’s a lot of money put into this, so you can’t just have people come in and out,” Ulla said.

The co-heads combated this by conducting interviews to ensure members were fully committed to the club. Ulla said, “We do the interview because we try and make it a little more serious so people show up and do things.”

Elsie said her favorite part about L4L is the impact it has had on the Latin community. She said, “[We know] that we’re raising awareness and potentially motivating people to get involved.”

Needless to say, the reach Latin4Lurie has is just beginning and will continue to grow.