AHS freshman’s non-profit delivers smiles to sick kids

Published 12:28 am Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ella Kate Nichols wants to deliver a few buckets of smiles to Children’s of Alabama next week, and is reaching out to the public for help.

The Andalusia High School freshman has a 501c3 non-profit, Buckets of Smiles, for children fighting childhood cancer. The organization collects items that are hospital-approved for the children who are receiving inpatient treatment.

“Buckets of Smiles are small buckets filled with activities and fun things for the kids to do while they are inpatient at hospitals in our area,” Nichols explained. “I have contacted Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham and we created a list of approved items that we can deliver to the children. The items donated will be sorted by age and placed in buckets to give to the children there in the childhood cancer and blood disorders unit.”

Those items include small board books, teething rings, rattles and socks for infants; books, medical play kits and shape sorters for toddlers; action figures, Legos, Barbie dolls, baby dolls, and Hot Wheels/Matchbook cars for school-aged children; journals, model car or airplane kits, playing cards, and jewelry making kits for teens; and gift cards for all ages (iTunes, Walmart, Toys R Us, etc.) For a complete, printable list, visit www.andalusiastarnews.com.

Drop-off locations include Tim Bryan State Farm Insurance in Andalusia, Covington Eye Care in Opp and Brunson Nichols Construction in Gantt. Donations will be collected on Fri., Sept. 15, to get them sorted and ready to deliver on the 20th. Monetary donations are also accepted to purchase any items needed to finish filling up the buckets.

Nichols said she has advocated for childhood cancer research since 2012.

“ I have raised over $15,000 for the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research through several coin drives in our local schools and also through selling tickets to an Atlanta Braves baseball game when I was given the opportunity to sing the National Anthem,” she said. “I started helping Rally because I have had two good friends to battle cancer, as well as many others in our county, and I knew I wanted to do something to help. Childhood cancer is not a rare as you may think. Forty-six children are diagnosed each day and seven lose their battle to cancer every day.”

Nichols said she remains passionate about raising funds for research, but also wanted to do something for the kids themselves.

“That’s why I came up with Buckets of Smiles,” she said. “The items donated will be sorted by age and placed in buckets to give to the children there in the childhood cancer and blood disorders unit.”

She also is planning a drive to benefit Nemours Children’s Clinic in Pensacola.

Nichols is also Miss West Central Alabama’s Outstanding Teen.