In today’s society, the stereotypical teenager is focused on themselves and achieving as many “likes” as possible on various social media sites; making a difference in the community may not come to mind to your average teen. For Carley McCall of Kernersville, NC, a recent East Forsyth High School graduate, giving back to her community began with the example of her parents working in the community. She then became more inspired over the years, leading to her touching the lives of children battling cancer at Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC. “My parents both have busy lives, but they always find time to help other people. When I was younger, my mom would make me and my brother volunteer at Samaritans’ Ministries in the summer. Although we weren’t always happy about getting up early, it didn’t take me long to realize the more you volunteer and do things for others, the more benefits you experience,” Carley said.
When Carley McCall was in the 6th grade, she joined the Crosby Scholars program, which follows students through high school to help them prepare for college, with community service being one aspect of the program. “I became more interested in finding ways to become involved and supportive of people in my community in the Crosby Scholars program. My junior year in high school, my friend, McKenzie Landis, started a club called ‘Acts of Kindness,’ a teen group that does volunteer service in our community, where I served as Vice President for two years. Our group participated in serving at a local nursing home, working with the Diaper Bank of NC, and writing letters to veterans at Operation Gratitude. But it was an overnight stay at Brenner Children’s Hospital a few days before Christmas, when I was a sophomore in high school, that planted the seed and led me to do something for the children battling cancer there,” recalled Carley.
“My mom was a retailer for LuLaRoe and heard about people making chemo caps for adults out of the leggings, since the material was so soft. When my mom decided to stop selling LuLaRoe, she had Valentine’s leggings in her inventory. I talked with her about the chemo cap project she had shared with me, and she kept the leggings for me to use. I loved the heart patterns on the leggings and thought they were perfect for what I wanted to do,” Carley said. Carly met with Ninevah Murray at Make This Yours sewing studio in Greensboro, NC, in December of 2018. In the past, she had taught Carley how to sew. The two worked together to sew the first cap, learning how best to make use of the material.
“I started sewing caps in January of this year, but with my busy schedule, between studying and extracurricular activities, and all the requirements that go along with planning for senior year, it took me until May to finish the project. I made 30 caps of various sizes for the children, as well as for the stuffed animals I provided to give to the kids. From the one night that I was in the hospital, I know how uncomfortable and frightening it can be, so it’s hard to imagine what children with cancer are going through. Stuffed animals provide a lot of comfort, so I decided to sew mini-chemo caps for the stuffed animals, so the children could have their cap and their furry friend would have one as well,” commented Carley.
With her caps and stuffed animals in tow, Carley and her mom, Crystal, made their delivery to Brenner, which were later given out to the children in the Oncology unit by Rebecca Brummel, Brenner Children’s Hospital’s Volunteer and Guest Service Manager. “Rebecca told us that the caps were greatly needed, and with the stuffed animals, greatly appreciated. I think giving, even in simple ways, helps others in need and just improves your own happiness,” said Carley.