‘Have Fun & Stay Strong’: Reading teen donates gift bags to sick children at local hospitals

READING, Mass. — Reading Public Schools started the first day of classes, but one student is continuing her summer project when she is not attending an online class.

15-year-old Bella Adlah was set to begin her first year of volunteering with a local hospital to achieve her goal of becoming a pediatric nurse.

“Since COVID they’re not allowing anybody to go into the hospitals but I still wanted to do something for children,” said Adlah.

The determined teenager found a way inside hospitals, anyway, by gathering donations from friends and family and creating her own gift-giving enterprise called “Have Fun & Stay Strong.”

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She spent some time in a hospital as a young child, and says that experience was “boring.” She can’t imagine what it’s like for a teen her age to have to be there for a longer period of time.

Adlah says she wants her bags to put a smile on the faces of kids who receive them.

“I love children and smiling makes me happy,” said Adlah.

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There are gift bags for age groups ranging from infants to teenagers.

The bags for teens have markers, stress balls, games, and playing cards, and so far, 200 bags have gone out.

“(I) just decided to come up with a fun little bag that has little activities for them to play with,” Adlah said.

She explained her idea to her mother, Linda in June.

“I said that’s a great idea, but I think it’s going to be a lot of work,” said Linda Adlah.

Her daughter began emailing hospitals across greater Boston and was welcomed by Emerson Hospital, Mass Eye and Ear, Massachusetts General Hospital, and six others.

Linda Adlah says she and her other daughter are helping but says Bella is putting in the most time and energy into her project. Friends and family member have donated the money to create each bag.

Tuesday, she told Boston 25 News during a Zoom interview in one of her open blocks between remote learning, that she is far from finished.

Friday, Bella Adlah will bring 25 bags to Boston Medical Center, then she is going to focus on bringing her bags to hospitals treating children across the country.

Related: #HeyThanks: Showcasing local acts of kindness during the coronavirus pandemic