It started as a small idea, dreamed up the school hallways between two high school classmates: how to find a creative way to support sick kids in the hospital. Lina Alkarmi, now 16-years-old, wanted to find a way to give back while also providing meaningful volunteer opportunities to kids her age.
Co-founding Princess Packages in 2017, the Sterling, Virginia resident assembles and delivers care packages meant to counteract the negative effects of hospitalization that young children suffering from terminal and other serious illnesses experience. The original design – a princess-themed care package meant to make hospitalized girls feel like princesses, has now expanded into several different care packages that are delivered to boys and girls at hospitals across the country.
Delivering over 400 packages thus far and making kids happier one package at a time, Lina is brightening the days of hospitalized young children, and is today’s Daily Point of Light award honoree. Points of Light spoke to Lina to learn more about her volunteerism with Princess Packages.
What inspires you to volunteer?
Starting Princess Packages was a way for me to directly help and impact children. It makes my day to see the reaction from children, and how much they enjoy our care packages. The hospital can be a lonely and boring place for kids, and those effects can sometimes manifest even after children return back home. We want these kids to feel special, and we’re able to do that with our care packages.
Describe your role with Princess Packages
As the co-founder of Princess Packages, I volunteer up to 50 hours each month. I make sure we have enough funds from donations and grants to purchase supplies for our care packages. I attend events to raise awareness for Princess Packages. Princess Packages volunteers are youths from middle and high schools across Virginia, and often work together in volunteer clubs at their schools to put together our care packages. I oversee those volunteers, as we are continuing to expand to new schools. We are currently in 10 schools in Virginia, and are starting clubs at 4 new schools next year!
Tell me what is in these Princess Packages.
When we started, our main package was filled with princess-themed items: a crown, wand, bracelet kit, bookmark. All items are designed to entertain a child while they’re in the hospital. Now, we provide different themed packages for boys and girls. We have packages filled with toys and stuffed animals, another package that includes Mad Libs and other activities.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
It’s surprising how willing people are to help. We’re able to provide opportunities for kids to give back, I think everyone should volunteer at some point. Donating your time and kindness makes a difference.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
I remember my very first package delivery, because we didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if the child was going to like the care package, or if they’d be disinterested. We brought the package to a child hospitalized in Washington D.C., and. the kid loved the Princess Package. That experience made me want to deliver even more packages, and continue to give back.
Why do you think your care packages mean so much?
It’s something so small, but the intention behind it is huge. Someone, a stranger who doesn’t even know you, is taking the time to bring you something. I think these kids realize that people put time and effort into making a package that is customized for them, and that means so much.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Pursue whatever idea you’re thinking of to give back to your community. Princess Packages started just as an idea to help people in the field of medicine, and now we have over 150 volunteers, and have delivered over 400 care packages. Everyone has a bunch of ideas just like it – you wake up in the middle of the night with these ideas. A lot of them don’t get put into action for whatever reason. Take action and just do it.
You’re a busy 16-year-old. What do you do besides volunteering and attending school?
I do karate, I also work as a karate teacher in my free time. I like a lot of outdoor activities.
How can readers help?
Princess Packages is always looking for donations and volunteers. Please visit our website for more information. http://princesspackages.org/
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Lina Alkarmi? Click here for local volunteer opportunities.