Ella Kate Nichols

Daily Point of Light # 6198 Feb 15, 2018
Ella Kate drops of a Bucket of Smiles container to a patient at The Studer Family Children's Hospital in Pensacola, Florida./Courtesy Ella Kate Nichols

Andalusia, Alabama teen Ella Kate Nichols is the founder of the nonprofit, Bucket of Smiles. Her mission is to bring smiles to the face of every child fighting cancer. Ella Kate is today’s Daily Point of Light, and she spoke with Points of Light about her commitment to advocating for children with cancer and their families.

Describe your volunteer role.

I host donation drives for citizens in our community to get involved by donating hospital-approved activity items for our buckets. I have also created a Buckets of Smiles ambassador program. The ambassadors are sent buckets and they hold donation drives for the items that go inside them. There are currently Bucket Ambassadors in ten states.

I have personally delivered Buckets of Smiles [containers] to three hospitals totaling over 90 buckets. Our ambassadors have delivered over 100 buckets in the last 5 months. Buckets of Smiles has also donated much needed pajamas and underwear for the children in the childhood cancer and blood disorders units in the children’s hospitals here in Alabama, in addition to donating to Smile-a-Mile to help provide scholarships to camps for children with cancer.

Also, five years ago, I learned about the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. With Rally, 93 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to research for better treatments. I have personally raised over $15,000 for the Rally Foundation by hosting several coin drives at my school, co-hosting a benefit beauty pageant, and singing the National Anthem at a Major League Baseball game.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned through volunteering?

Through volunteering and through my non-profit, I have learned to be thankful every day, for everything, in every situation.

We should always be thankful for what we have been blessed with because it can change in an instant. Volunteering has also taught me that just a small gesture can bring a smile to someone’s face and make their burden just a little more bearable.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Ella Kate? Visit All For Good to find local volunteer opportunities.

Jia Gayles