Spending time at a hospital is no fun. But Girl Scouts from Service Unit 406 in Hoffman Estates, IL are aiming to bring cheer to pediatric patients at the Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, IL with hundreds of handmade stuffed animals.

“It’s important to give back to the community to help people know we’re much more than just cookies and we do many great things,” said Ameenah Zawahir, a 10-year-old Girl Scout Junior.

Her 9-year-old sister Jasmine, a Girl Scout Brownie, agreed.

“I thought it was fun to work as a team and do something nice for the children at the hospital,” she said.

According to Shane Sexton, a service unit coordinator for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the project began a few years ago as a way for her troop to earn its philanthropist badge. To create the critters, the girls cut, stuff and sew tube socks with help from adult volunteers. Afterward, they decorate the faces of the critters and include a “healing wish” for the recipient.

“They’re happy to do it,” Sexton said. “They’re learning through Girl Scouts what it means to give back to the community through project like this. They really are loving it.”

Katelyn Malartsik, a 15-year-old Girl Scout Senior, enjoyed receiving thank-you cards from the family of patients who’d received the critters, such as one little boy who named his stuffed animal Pickles.

“It feels really good to hear that the animals helped them feel better,” she said. “I think it’s good for them to know that people care, and Girl Scouts are aware of what’s going on and want to help.”

Phyllis Harman, staff chaplain at Alexian Brothers Medical Center, is grateful for the sock critters, which often accompany a prayer blanket from the hospital.

“The patients and their families are amazed that someone else is thinking about them,” she said. “To know that little kids made these critters out of their own hands and hearts, the patients feel very blessed. We as chaplains feel very, very blessed.”

By participating in the service project, Sexton said the girls are truly living the Girl Scout law to “make the world a better place.”

“When they see how much it means to be helpful, considerate and kind, that’s what it really means to be a Girl Scout,” she said.

Want to make your own sock critter? Check out the video tutorial below:

Special thanks to Shane Sexton, Chris Stapleton and the members of Troop 43081 for their assistance in making this video!

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