RYE, N.Y. (WCBS 880) – Sixteen-year-old Alicia McMillan, of Rye, loves to bring a big smile to a little person’s face.
“I make care packs for children that are either going through cancer or have parents going through cancer,” she tells WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.
It’s a selfless undertaking rooted in a personal experience.
“When I was about 12, my aunt, who lives just down the road, was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. And the first thing I did was – I was just like, I just want to raise money. So I raised $4,500 for the American Cancer Society,” she says.
McMillan hosted a charity party, auction and raffle, but she wasn’t finished.
“I really wanted to do something more personal, and I remember I had set my mind on – I want to do something for kids,” she says.
So she consulted with the people closest to her who would know best.
“About two years ago, I sat down with my aunt, who had breast cancer but she was cancer free at that point, her husband and my two little cousins, and we kind of talked about what we felt was missing when she was going through cancer,” she says. “And there was nothing really there for my little cousins.”
The idea was born: care packs for kids. McMillan used her babysitting money to buy supplies.
“The first thing we start with is always a blanket that we hand make,” she tells Adams. “There’s a cuddly toy, and then usually books and games and things like that. It depends on the age.”
Each package is personalized.
“And then there’s always a little letter to be like, ‘this kit is for you just to remember that someone loves you and is looking out for you, and that everything is going to be OK,’” she says.
Local cancer support group Soul Ryeders adopted her project. The Westchester County health department has honored her for her efforts.
“I just want them to know that they’re loved and that there’s hope, everything will work out,” she says.