For many hospitalized patients, especially children, extended hospital stays are physically and mentally demanding. Patients and families strive for a sense of normalcy and routine. One aspect of a “regular” routine is undoubtedly hygiene and grooming. HLFYA Calla Doh recognized the potential of providing quality and portable toiletries to contribute to personal care and to maintain one’s well-being; there are few other feelings as satisfying and liberating as being freshly showered or washing up. Particularly in the era of COVID-19, where hospitalized children with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to viruses, it is imperative that patients remain clean. Calla’s passion for medicine and aiding children in need inspired her to organize a toiletry care package drive for Children’s National in DC.

After contacting a representative at Children’s, Calla turned to her high school for donations, particularly travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, soap, toothbrushes, combs, and lip balm. She created informational posters and handouts to spread the word about her drive and encouraged her classmates to participate. Over the course of a week in May, she was able to collect over 464 toiletry items from students and even teachers. After sorting and dividing all the items into individual care packages, she presented Children’s Hospital with over 40 packages and five huge bags of extra toiletries.

She was pleasantly surprised with the amount of toiletry care packages she was able to create with the generous donations of her high school. Calla recalls random classmates coming up to her in the hallways to thank her for putting together such an impactful and wide-reaching drive; however, she strongly believes she could not have done it without the goodwill of so many of her classmates. Due to the drive’s success, she definitely plans to continue organizing the drive for the remainder of her high school career.

“I was blown away by the support I received from my classmates; it truly goes to show the large impact one small-scale drive can have on so many children. I hope to continue to support people of all ages and backgrounds struggling with their health – it is an amazing feeling knowing that you’ve left a positive impact on strangers’ lives.”

Written by 2021 HLFYA Calla Doh