Alex's Cause


The Alexandra Chiles Foundation is a philanthropy project founded in 2000 to honor the life of a very special young woman. Alex was eighteen years old when she died in March 2000 following a six-year battle with cancer and the complications of a bone-marrow transplant. Throughout her illness, Alexandra's most effective way of coping with the challenges she faced was to develop and participate in community service projects. One of her favorite activities was beading necklaces, which she gave as thank-you gifts to the nurses, hospital personnel, friends and family.

In 2001, the Foundation grew from a small philanthropy project, which originated with the Stanford Hills Chapter of the National Charity League, into a non-profit public charity. The mission of the Foundation is to continue the unwavering dedication to community service which Alex and her family found so beneficial, proving that creativity can be transcending and giving empowering. The focus of Alexandra’s Foundation will continue to be the development of crafting kits for children in need while promoting community service to the groups which put the kits together. To date many 1,000’s of volunteers have assembled in excess of 80,000 beading kits, which include materials for necklaces, lanyards, beaded headbands, macramé key chains, bracelets, American flag pins, leather cord necklaces, friendship bracelets, and hemp necklaces.

The very first kits were prepared from beads collected in a holiday bead drive as well as from those donated by The Bead Shop in Palo Alto, California as a part of their philanthropy endeavors. Recipients of the kits are Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, Oakland Children's Hospital, Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, the University of California Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, Valley Medical in San Jose, and Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara. The Foundation has also supplied kits to Camp Okizu in Berry Creek, California, The Painted Turtle summer camp near Malibu, CA as well as the first Paul Newman camp - The Hole in the Wall Gang camp in Ashford, Connecticut.

We are learning that crafting kits are satisfying an unmet need for activities for children ages 8-18 in hospitals and their families in group settings. The "power of the bead" has served as an inspiration to all who have participated in the work of Alexandra’s Foundation. With continued support, it is our goal to have a craft kit in the hands of every child confined to a hospital bed.