A call to action for other kids looking to give back
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Lonnie may still not have been able to volunteer herself in hospitals, but once official, Polished Girlz could enlist the volunteer services of older girls who were looking to fulfill community service hour requirements for their high schools.
Soon, girls who met the 15-year-old age minimum were signing up to join the cause. The process for volunteers is pretty simple: you fill out an application online and if approved, you donate $55 to Polished Girlz which covers the cost of your Caboodles carry case, a Polished Girlz T-shirt, nail polish, remover, hand sanitizer, glitter and nail art stickers. You can be as young as eight to apply. There’s no age cut-off.
“I didn't want to limit young girls who want to serve their community like I did,” says Wall, who is now old enough to do hands on hospital volunteer work where approved. “I felt it was important for kids to know they could be a part of this.”
Wall adds that you also don’t have to be/identify as a girl to volunteer. “We have plenty of Polished Guyz!”
Thousands of kids and some very powerful bonds
In the seven years since its inception, Polished Girlz has acquired over 900 volunteers around the U.S and has served thousands of children in a growing list of hospitals and care facilities. Though Wall has had her hands full with school commitments (“my parents and I always agree that my education has to come first,” she says), she still frequently spends weekends in the hospital with her nail kit.
Some of the children she works with she’s visited multiple times and has become particularly invested in; take Mariah, for example, a four-year old girl who was born with chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIPO) — a rare gastrointestinal disorder.
“Over the past three years Polished Girlz has popped in to polish Mariah, who is in and out of the hospital constantly,” Erin Grubb, Mariah’s mom tells NBC News BETTER. “The first time Lonnie and her mom came, Mariah was in the ICU and the world was not so bright. But they came in and Mariah got to feel so special and pretty. It’s so important to help these kids feel beautiful and normal especially those dealing with a chronic condition who really need comfort and normalcy. They’re also great with siblings who may be feeling left out when the majority of the parents’ concentration is on the sick child.”
It’s so important to help these kids feel beautiful and normal especially those dealing with a chronic condition who really need comfort and normalcy.
Grubb says that Wall keeps track of Mariah’s story by following the family’s Facebook page Prayers For Mariah, and might swing by with her kit when noting that Mariah is back in the hospital. Wall also posts updates on Polished Girlz’s Instagram about Mariah’s journey and her strength, summoning not only good wishes for the child, but helping raise awareness for CIPO, a condition that Grubb says affects only one in 300,000 births.
This is isn’t just fun for kids, it’s liberating
It’s Grubb’s hope that more hospitals will enlist organizations like Polished Girlz, or implement their own self-care programs for children who could benefit from a splash of fun in such a starkly serious environment.
Everyone can use a spa day now and then.
“Everyone can use a spa day now and then,” Grubb says. “And I know for me, seeing Mariah happy is the brightest moment in my day. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Wall has every intention of continuing to grow Polished Girlz, but right now, she’s primarily focused on getting ready for college in the fall.
“I’m going to USC,” she says with well-earned pride. “And I’m studying business.”
Surely, she’s already something of a master in that department.
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