For more than 30 years, American Girl has brought fun into the lives of little girls with their sweet dolls. Now, this 9-year-old hopes to share the joy she's found in the toys with young cancer patients.
Bella Fricker, a third grader from Georgia, fundraises money to donate bald American Girl dolls to little girls with cancer by selling her handmade bracelets through her very own business called "Peace. Love. Bracelets," according to The Huffington Post. She started her fundraising efforts just a few months ago, and she's already sold close to 500 bracelets and donated four dolls.
"Unfortunately, four children in our community over the years have had cancer and really left an impression on her," Bella's mother, Valerie Fricker, told The Huffington Post. "I have been personally involved in the fundraising efforts within the community in the past."
Back in October, Bella set up a workspace in her playroom and began to create the handmade bracelets and "blind bags" for $3-15. All of the proceeds from her jewelry business go directly to her next American Girl doll purchase.
"I think [Bella] has just taken her love and passion for American Girl dolls and turned it into her passion with wanting to make little girls feel happy when they're in the hospital and have lost their hair," her mother said.
The Fricker family organizes the doll donations with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). Bella personally delivers the dolls to girls in the hospital, and she enjoys picking out items and outfits that will speak to the new owners.
"For example, if they are a softball player, then Bella will get a softball outfit. If they are a ballerina, Bella will get a ballet outfit," Valerie said. "She also likes to give them a coloring book, crayons, and a bracelet-making set, so they have something to do during chemotherapy or hospital stays."
All of the donated dolls come from the American Girl "Truly Me" line, which are designed for girls with cancer, alopecia, or other hair loss conditions. They come without hair and can be customized to feature various eye colors and skin tones. If the young owner wants her doll to have hair once her own hair returns, it can be arranged with the doll company free of charge.
Bella's donated dolls come wearing a hospital gown, which Bella also arranged on her own. Right now, the only way to get these gowns for the dolls is to send your own American Girl doll to the company's "Doll Hospital" for repair. To assist Bella in her efforts, people have donated their own doll's hospital gowns to outfit these new dolls for cancer patients, FOX5 Atlanta reports.
The third grader hopes to donate 45-50 dolls to CHOA and a few other children's hospitals across the country in the near future, and she's also considering raising money to donate Build-A-Bear stuffed animals to children who might not play with dolls. Her mother plans to create a website for "Peace. Love. Bracelets." and turn the charity business into an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
"It's been awesome," Bella told FOX5 Atlanta. "I feel really good about myself by helping somebody else."
To donate to Bella's cause, visit her Facebook page for more information.
[h/t The Huffington Post]