Additional Resource

Twin Girls Give Back to Children’s National Medical Center

A couple of hours after identical twins Sofia and Mirabel Atkinson were born, Mirabel was rushed to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where she spent the first two difficult months of her life. Diagnosed with complex congenital heart disease, Mirabel underwent three major open-heart surgeries and three heart catherization procedures before her seventh birthday.


The twin girls, now 13 years old, are active members of their Latter-day Saint congregation in Washington, D.C., and are working towards Personal Progress requirements in the Church’s Young Women program. The goal of the program is to provide young women with opportunities to serve others and to develop spiritually, socially, physically and intellectually.

The Atkinson twins had a desire to give back to the hospital that treated Mirabel. They thought of many service possibilities. “We thought about knitted hats for babies or toys,” said Mirabel, “but I wanted to donate something that patients really need. Sometimes kids go to the hospital unexpectedly and they don’t have a change of clothes or clean underwear,” she explained. “In the hospital, doctors and parents make most of your decisions. You need to find ways to feel normal. Having clean underwear helps you feel like yourself again,” said Mirabel.

“Patients often end up staying longer than they planned,” added the twins’ mother, Meredith Atkinson. There is usually no time to go home and pick up clean underwear. “Having clean underwear available at the hospital affords kids some degree of dignity,” Meredith said.

“We learned that the hospital almost never receives donations of underwear; they have to buy it,” Mirabel said. “We thought we could help fill that need.”

The girls set a goal of collecting 5,000 pairs of underwear. “I thought that was a bit too ambitious and suggested they lower the goal to 1,000,” said Meredith. But Sofia said, “Why wouldn’t people want to donate underwear? so we set the goal at 5,000. “We reached 144 percent of our goal,” said Sofia, at 7,000 pairs.

“We made posters and handouts and told everyone we knew about the drive,” said Sofia. “Soon underwear started arriving in the mail.” Messages were posted on neighborhood lists and with social media support groups. A donation of nearly 1,200 pairs of underwear came from the Hope Marietta Foundation. The foundation supports children and families with congenital heart disease.

“Most of the underwear, nearly 6,000 pairs, came from individuals and families who donated 15 to 20 pairs each,” said Sofia. “That means about 300 individuals and families thought it was important enough to donate,” she said.

The twins and four of their friends spent upwards of 80 hours each distributing flyers, making phone calls and sorting underwear by size and gender as it arrived. The Atkinson girls enjoyed building walls of underwear in their parents’ living room. On August 16, 2018, the Children’s National Medical Center presented the girls with Youth Volunteer of the Year awards for their service.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.