About Big Hearts for Little Hearts Guilds



The Big Hearts for Little Hearts Guild was founded to raise awareness and support for the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, which provides life-saving care for critically ill or injured children.



In 1994, the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital Foundation was formed. A trio of determined female community leaders from the Loma Linda, Redlands, and Riverside areas recognized the need to enlist the community in the effort to make the Children’s Hospital the outstanding leader in serving the medical needs of children that we experience today. Spearheaded by Nancy Varner, Dixie Watkins, and Eloise Habekost, the ladies visited other children’s hospital guilds in Southern California to find a model that they thought would work at Loma Linda. They recruited friends, educated themselves about hospital needs, and made the decision to form the first Children’s Hospital Guild. Because Loma Linda University Medical Center has a long history of serving children with heart issues, they selected the name “Big Hearts for Little Hearts.” And so the guild movement began, with 1999 being the inaugural year of BHLH Loma Linda Guild.  Today, three additional guilds are active in Coachella Valley, Riverside and Temecula Valley.


Because the majority of Loma Linda Guild members reside in areas close to the hospital, the guild has chosen to make a majority of its activities hands-on with the patients and staff. Their major fundraising activity was their now famous cooking school, which grew in popularity to a capacity crowd of over 800 attendees in 2006.


In 2002, a group of ladies in the Coachella Valley led by the Honorable Shirley Pettis Roberson and Jane Woolley, M.D. recognized a similar opportunity for guild support in their community. While the Coachella Valley is served by three fine hospitals, critically ill or injured children are usually transported to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. A membership tea was put together and community volunteers were invited to hear the LLUCH story. The message reached many of the attendees and so the Big Hearts for Little Hearts Desert Guild was established. Formation meetings and recruiting energies were under the leadership of Mardell Brandt, the first president of the Desert Guild.


Because of the significant distance from the hospital campus, the Desert Guild made a decision to focus its energies on the pediatric intensive care unit and transport team. Their major fundraising activity has revolved around a luncheon, fashion show, and boutique, which has grown to become one of the premiere social events of the desert season.


Currently, Foundation board leadership and Foundation staff are focusing their energies on increasing the number of guilds throughout the communities in the hospital service area.


General Information

Each guild, though structurally guided by similar bylaws, will have the ability to be unique in its choice of activities and selective in its areas of participation.


The success of the first two Big Hearts for Little Hearts guilds has magnified the vision first experienced by the Loma Linda Guild founders. Guild members become the face and the voice of LLUCH. They are an integral and important part of the Children’s Hospital family.


An important value of having guilds in various communities is that the interests of each individual community can be reflected in the activities selected for focus by each individual group.


Volunteer fundraisers allow for diversity of ideas and activities that reach a huge community audience of potential supporters for the hospital. The best part is that guild members will make friends and have a good time while working together to help the children of their communities.


Becoming a member of an existing Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital guild or participating in the formation of a new guild will provide a wonderful opportunity to be an integral part of some of the miraculous happenings for the most children of our community.