Today, there are chapters of Polished Girlz around the country, including in Chicago, Los Angeles, Baltimore and New York City. To start a chapter, volunteers must have an adult Team Lead. The new volunteers receive a kit from Polished Girlz that includes a Caboodles carrying case, hand sanitizer, a booklet on hand washing, nail polish remover, stickers, glitters and nail polish.
Alanna is happy to finally be able to give. Her mother is often awed by her daughter’s composure and compassion.
“We visited a girl in the hospital. The surgeon had been trying to get her to sit up for three days but, when they (the volunteers) came in with polish, she sat up because she wanted to see the colors,” said Ragland. “The mom pulled me outside, crying.”
Sometimes Alanna gets special requests for private polishing sessions, something Polished Girlz doesn’t require other volunteers do. Ragland recalls a little girl named Anna who, at 10, was suffering with congestive heart failure. Ragland explained the situation to Alanna and let her make the decision to go. Alanna insisted.
As it turns out, they polished Anna and her sister.
“Anna came down with oxygen on and didn’t feel well. Alanna took an hour drawing designing, polishing and putting on stickers,” said Ragland, who polished the sister and also held their mother while she cried in the kitchen.
“She couldn’t believe the time Alanna took with her daughter,” said Ragland. “When she got finished with Anna, she left her with one of the bracelets she had made. Her sister said she wanted one too. She wanted one just like Anna. We made the bracelet that weekend and left it in the mailbox that Monday. Her mother emailed us less than a week later and said, ‘I want you to know shortly after you left, Anna went into the hospital and she passed with her bracelet on and her nails done.’”
“But it really is amazing (Alanna) doesn’t have that fear of working with these children,” said Ragland. “She seems to have a sense of peace knowing that they are okay and not suffering.”
To start Polished Girlz, Ragland used money from her salary as a nurse. Alanna’s father, a real estate developer, also works for Polished Girlz along with two other volunteers who handle customer service. Business is growing so fast that Ragland said, laughing, “Alanna is going to have to start paying people.”
Polished Girlz also has a board of directors and Alanna’s parents make sure she attends meetings and participates in running the organization. Volunteers pay a $55 registration fee and receive a pink Caboodles carrying case, a Polished Girlz T-shirt, nail polish and other supplies.
Right now, Alanna and her volunteers regularly polish the nails of close to 1,000 kids. But after Alanna’s latest TV appearance the group picked up 100 new volunteers to add to the 125 it had after and Ragland said, “I don’t know how many kids we will end up doing this year.”
The pre-teen shows up at walks for autism, visits several Ronald McDonald’s Houses around the country, paints nails for the Sickle Cell Foundation and a growing number of other clients. When she’s not volunteering, Alanna, who attends a performing arts school, is learning the latest nail polish technique, diving, playing the violin or hanging out with friends or her younger brother Jeffrey, a karate master. She has also started designing jewelry and a custom line of Polished Girlz nail polish.
“I want Polished Girlz to be worldwide,” said Alanna. “If you are in the hospital, you should still get polished. I think every girl should be able to get polished.”