Volunteer commits life to caring for kids

For Anna Sikora volunteering is more than just something she does in her spare time, it’s a way of life.

“The friendships that we’ve formed and the community that we’ve developed mean so much. We’re always going to have a bond because of the Children’s Hospital.”

Anna has been part of The Children’s Hospital Guild of Manitoba for almost 30 years. When she joined in 1992 there were five separate guilds (now all amalgamated to The Children’s Hospital Guild) and Anna was invited to be part of the Chown Guild.

Back when Anna signed up to start volunteering she was a stay at home mom of kids aged two, four, and six. She was looking for some adult interaction and a way to help out.

“We were fortunate that our kids were very healthy right from the get-go. But there was a part of me that thought there are a lot of kids that haven’t started that way. I thought I have to give back because I’m so fortunate,” says Anna.

Over her time with the guild Anna has held many positions including president of The Children’s Hospital Guild. She’s helped out with hundreds of fundraisers to support HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital like wine tastings, car rallies, and fashion shows.

“It makes my heart happy to know that we’re helpful for the community and for the hospital. It’s just a good feeling, you can’t beat it,” says Anna.

As part of her guild duties Anna has collected books from people’s homes for the Children’s Hospital Book Market. During one pickup she met a very special donor. The woman invited her inside to see pictures of her son.

“I go in and her son is Burton Cummings. And there’s the piano where he first learned to play. And there’s the photo of Burton Cummings with the Queen. And there’s all his golden and platinum albums along the wall,” remembers Anna.

Anna has an affinity for sewing and was one of three founding members of Sew4Kids. The group stitches comfort items for kids in hospital like blankets, boxers and pajamas. One project she really enjoyed is making a teaching teddy bear for the Dr. Goodbear clinic at the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. She put a zipper in a massive stuffie and sewed internal organs like a heart, lungs, and kidneys so kids could learn about anatomy. This turned out to be one of the most favourite attractions in the Dr. Goodbear clinic tent over the years.

Now Anna is the chair of the Nearly New Shop, a thrift and consignment store at 961 Portage Avenue. All proceeds from items sold there go to helping sick kids, but the shop is also very important to its patrons.

“The impact that I see in the community at the Nearly New Shop just always amazes me. There’s such a need in the community and people are so appreciative of the work that we do and how helpful it is for them. We’re talking about people that have very little. Knowing that their money is going to help Children’s Hospital is a bonus. We’re helping them and they’re helping us,” says Anna.

The Children’s Hospital Guild has an important place in Anna’s life not only because of the difference she makes as a volunteer, but because she’s met so many wonderful people.

“Everyone is there because they want to be. Everyone does what they can do, when they can do it and we carry on in a positive way. It’s just a great win-win situation. You’re meeting great people that are focused on a great cause,” says Anna.

Anna cares deeply for the children she helps by raising money for Children’s Hospital Foundation and plans to continue as long as she can.

“Supporting the Children’s Hospital, their research and their care, is going to go such a long way in making sure that our whole society stays healthy into the future. Making sure our kids are healthy will ensure our adults stay healthy so society benefits from the fact that we have healthy kids.”

The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba deeply appreciates all the work volunteers do to support sick and injured kids. To find out how you can join The Children’s Hospital Guild of Manitoba click here.