Alanna Worrall, 12, of Brooklyn Park, Minn., a sixth-grader at the Washington Campus of Anoka Middle School for the Arts, assembles "Feel Better" baskets and provides other items to help distract sick children from the fear they often experience in the hospital. When Alanna had outpatient surgery at Gillette Children's Hospital in 2009, "I was really scared," she said, but hospital staff members made her smile and laugh by giving her stickers, a blanket and a stuffed animal. Alanna wanted to do the same for other kids in the hospital, so several months later, she emptied her piggy bank to make four Easter baskets for young patients at Gillette.
The next year, she asked family members and friends to help her make more Easter baskets, and then summer baskets as well. Eventually, Alanna also solicited donations through collection boxes, letters to local businesses, a partnership with a local nonprofit group and a "hat day" at her school. So far, she has distributed more than 300 "Feel Better" baskets, each containing a bubble-blowing kit, a toy or activity, candy and a stuffed animal. In addition, Alanna has used more than $2,000 in monetary donations to buy DVDs, video and board games, and craft supplies for hospitalized children. "Kids should have time to be kids even when they're in the hospital," said Alanna. "I don't want them to be scared."