Girl Scouts Make Tote Bags to Help Lift Spirits of Patients Battling Cancer

Girl Scouts Make Tote Bags to Help Lift Spirits of Patients Battling Cancer

In the worst stages of her cancer treatment, what got Jessica Brubaker through were the messages of support, she said.

Brubaker now wants to assist others battling the disease. To help other chemotherapy patients, Brubaker has teamed up some Girl Scouts in Lemont Friday to assemble tote bags and write letters of support.

“We are making bags for cancer patients so they can feel better and they can lift their spirits,” said Lauren Tracy, 10, a Girl Scout at Saints Cyril and Methodius School in Lemont.

About 20 girls in the school’s kindergarten Daisy troop and fourth grade Junior Troop assembled 21 tote bags in conjunction with the #bettereveryday chemo care tote program, which Brubaker started last year with items to help “brighten the spirit of those going through treatment and bring a smile their way,” said troop leader Megan Plahm.

Using troop funds, donations from friends and family, as well as providing some of the supplies themselves, the girls filled the bags with items that would benefit chemo patients, Plahm said. According to a #bettereveryday flier, more than 150 chemo care totes have been gifted, filled with items such as reusable water bottles, Working Hands hand cream for chemo rash, Biotene mouthwash for mouth sores caused by chemo, adult coloring books, colored pencils and crayons to pass the time during treatment.

Bags also had Lifesaver candies to help offset the taste of saline during the cancer treatments, the flier said.

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As Brubaker, who is from Western Springs, prepared to meet the girls, she told the Daily Southtown about her battle with breast cancer. A mother of three small children, she underwent a double mastectomy and is nearly finished with her treatment, she said.

“After my first chemotherapy, I got very, very sick,” she said. “You’ve got to knock yourself down to build yourself back up.”

Fighting back tears, she recalled a conversation with her husband who reminded her that the only time she said she might not make it through was when she was on the bathroom floor vomiting in the toilet.

“When you’re knocked back down, it’s hard to know you will get back up,” she told the Southtown. “What helped me get back up” was knowing people cared.

In every bag she sends, she writes a personal note, and so did the Girl Scouts.

To read the full story, visit Daily Southtown. And to learn about other Girl Scout service projects, visit Girls Give Back.

Local Girl Scout Donates Unicorns to Kids with Cancer

Local Girl Scout Donates Unicorns to Kids with Cancer

After visiting her grandfather in the hospital, Galilea Gonzalez of Des Plaines, Illinois decided she wanted to help children who were in the hospital as well.

“Unicorns are my favorite and they’re special because they can help other kids,” said the 7-year-old Girl Scout Daisy.

Galilea mentioned the idea to her mother, Carmina Gonzalez, and together they came up with an idea to raise money for stuffed unicorns.

“We went to [Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s] program kickoff event at Allstate Arena and there was a sponsor making bath salts inside a Ziploc bag,” explained Carmina. “It was very simple and she loved it, so she said she would make them and sell them and use the money she made to buy the unicorns.”

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Galilea in the process of making bath salts.

Many bath salts bags later, Galilea was able to purchase more than 100 unicorns, which were distributed to local children with cancer. As a result of her hard work and empathy, Galilea received the “Lead Like Elena” award and was featured on the Disney Channel. The award is inspired by the leadership and bravery of Disney’s newest heroine, Elena of Avalor.

“I was excited,” Galilea said of her brief appearance on the Disney Channel.
For the Gonzalez family, Girl Scouting is a family tradition.

“I was a Girl Scout when I was living in California and I learned so many different things. We did a lot of camping and outdoor activities,” said Carmina, who’s also Galilea’s troop leader. “I come from a first-generation family and I learned a lot from my leaders. It was enriching for me and empowering and I want Galilea to feel empowered as a girl.”

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Galilea sold bath salts to buy unicorns for children in need.

Meanwhile, Galilea is having a ton of fun in her second year as a Girl Scout Daisy making friends and collecting fun patches.

“It’s fun and I want to do it every day,” she said. “I want to do it right now.”

And Carmina shares her daughter’s enthusiasm.

“I enjoy being a Girl Scout leader,” she said. “You’re teaching them, but they’re teaching you, too.”

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