Read about Nala Kathleen Johnson's Afghans for Angel Project.
Nala Kathleen Johnson puts her crocheting skills to good use making blankets, hats, and scarves for sick or cold kids.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work
did/do you do?
We make blankets for kids with cancer. We make hats and scarves for kids in the Ukraine who are cold. They live in an orphanage because they donít have a mom or a dad to take care of them.
My mom is teaching me how to crochet.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Nala: Our project is called the Afghans for Angel Project. It is out of our house. We live in Ames, Iowa. We have a website, too. It is www.afaproject.org.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Nala: My mom and me make things out of crocheted and knitted squares people give us. The people are from every where in the whole world. I help sew the squares together and also help keep track of who sends the squares.
The people who benefit from our project are kids who have cancer. Kids who live in an orphanage get things, too. They donít have a mom or dad to give them warm hats. It is cold there in the winter. We make things for babies, too. Sometimes their moms donít have any money to buy them things. Also, they are sometimes born too soon, and they donít have things that fit.
While these projects benefited the community, the Simmons cousins learned about the
great value and work of nonprofit organizations, the endless needs of communities, and the power of philanthropy in making a difference.
We use the squares to make other things, too.
What inspired you to get involved?
Nala: I knew a boy in my school who had cancer. He died. It made me feel sad. Another girl who was in my class had cancer, too. She died, too. I was sad they were sick. I wanted to help them feel better.
How did you first get involved? Through school? Your parents? Some other means? Give us some details.
Nala: My mom crochets stuff. I asked her to make a blanket. She asked her friends from the Internet to help. They gave us squares.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Nala: The best thing is helping people be happy and not sad.
What is/was the hardest part?
Nala: The hardest part is putting the squares together. Sometimes my neck hurts if I do it too long. And it is hard to make the blankets look good sometimes Ďcause we donít have squares that match. Then my mom makes squares.
What was the biggest surprise?
Nala: The biggest surprise was once when a lady from Finland, which is a country far away from Iowa where I live, sent some things for my mom to sew together for a blanket just for me! I liked it a lot.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience, and how have you changed as a result?
Nala: I have learned to sew and crochet. I can chain stitch really good now. I also learned it feels good inside to do nice things for other people. Especially people who are sick or little or who donít have parents who are nice to them.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Nala: I would tell them to do it because it makes them feel good inside.
Afghans for Angel Project
The Foundation Center