Lilia Zakhireh, a volunteer at Novel bookstore in Memphis, found a way to combine her love of bookworm accessories, inspirational messaging and DIY crafts with a desire to give back to those who need help.
Novel customers could purchase the bookmarks Lilia designed and assembled on her own, with the help of her younger sisters and a Cricut machine. Proceeds from one round of the bookmarks went to the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation.
Lilia said, “The bookmarks sold for $2 each. I wanted the bookmarks to be affordable for everyone!”
Lilia plans to continue providing bookmarks for sale at Novel to support local charities, including the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation. Her efforts so far have raised $60 for the Foundation.
“My second round of bookmarks sold in the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I chose the Baptist Foundation as a way to support patients who need a little financial help during their treatment for breast cancer. I am thankful that Baptist has a fund specifically designed to help patients who can’t afford their treatment even with health insurance,” said Lilia.
Lilia’s mother, Jennifer Louise Zakhireh, MD, specializes in breast surgery at Baptist Cancer Center. She said that when Novel offered a partnership to Lilia to sell her bookmarks, Lilia saw an opportunity to make a more meaningful impact by raising money for people in need in our community.
“The first donation was for the Forrest Spence Fund, which supports local families that have critically or chronically ill children. The second donation was for the Baptist Foundation, which supports underinsured women undergoing breast cancer treatment. This fund is particularly special to me personally as it allows access to financial support for patients I care for in my breast surgery practice. The third donation was gifted to the Dorothy Day House, a local charity that keeps families together when facing homelessness,” explained Dr. Zakhireh.
“She has been thrilled to send each of these checks with faith and hope that the donation will make a difference. Lilia has taught me that there is no wrong way to give. Every effort we make to lift others is meaningful,” said Dr. Zakhireh.
Lilia’s love of books led to her volunteering at Novel. In 2021, she read more than 100 books, some of them more than once. Lilia said, “I have reviewed over 30 published and unpublished books for Novel. If I review an unpublished book, Novel sends my review to the publishing company as feedback from their intended audience. I love reading and visiting my fellow bookworms at Novel.”
For her bookmark designs, Lilia has found inspiration in the seasons and the chosen charity, but mostly she wanted to make something joyful. Lilia said, “I have found joy in making them, and I hope the people who buy them will find joy in donating to a local charity like I have. Books are my happy place, and what better location to find inspiration and a positive message – on my bookmark!”
Feeling inspired by this story? Use the QR code to donate to the Foundation or visit bmhgiving.org!