Local Girl Scouts Give Back to Kids in Hurricane Victims

Local Girl Scouts Give Back to Kids in Hurricane Victims

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After watching a CNN special about students displaced after Hurricane Harvey, 12-year-old twins Allyssa and Ashley Smith joined forces with their Sister Girl Scouts in Troop 50384 to collect school supplies for kids in need.

“I saw the interview with a few students who were crying about losing all their stuff and not being able to go back to the same schools with their friends,” said Allyssa. “It made me really sad and I wanted to do something to give them hope that it was going to be okay. I thought if they had a new school bag with new stuff, it would let them know I care about what has happened to them even though I don’t know them.”

And her sister agreed.

“It is very important to help people in need because it can inspire them to get through their tough times into better times,” Ashley said. “There are so many mean people in the world who do bad things, but if more people are nicer and do good things to help each other, we can overcome the badness in the world. If no one starts, then the world will get worse. I want to be a part of the good people.”

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Inspired by a group called Kids in the Gap at their church, the girls and their friends decided to “stand for kids who can’t stand for themselves,” said Joyce Smith, Allyssa and Ashley’s mom.

The troop partnered with the Aurora Fire Department to reach their goal of 500 filled school bags for students in the Houston Independent School District.

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“By helping others, you are encouraging them. Showing compassion and giving kindness can really uplift a person when they are experiencing a rough time,” said 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadette Kendall Winston. “It lets them know that ‘I care for you,’ which can be great for someone who is hurting or suffering. My family and church family have also taught me that it is a blessing to help people when they need it most.”

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So far, the girls have received more than 100 bags from people in the community, as well as retailers such as JCPenney and Five Below. In addition to school supplies, each bag will contain a note of encouragement from the Girl Scouts as part of their Silver Award project, which is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.

“You never know when you may need help and you would want someone to help you,” said a 13-year-old Gelani Clark. “Right now, we are blessed to have more than what we actually need so why not be a blessing to someone who may be down on their luck if you can? When you have been blessed to have so much, it is good to give a blessing to others.”

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The girl are also collecting toiletries for those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Items can be dropped off at Aurora Fire Department stations.

“Girl Scouts has taught me that when you help others and give back to the community, you have a better impact on the work and it teaches you to be kind,” said 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadette Edniah Hamilton. “You have to think of others who may be less fortunate than you, so it’s nice to give back and help whenever you can.”

To learn more about how you can help with disaster recovery, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Your donation of any amount will continue to support Girl Scouts’ giving back!
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Local Girl Scouts Earn Silver Award

Local Girl Scouts Earn Silver Award

After noticing the gardens at a local residential facility were in need of some TLC this summer, Claireabelle Boudart, Emily and Lauren Balla of Arlington Heights, Illinois decided to take matters into their own hands, literally. The 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadettes helped spruce up the gardens at the Clearbrook Center in Rolling Meadows, Illinois as their Girl Scout Silver Award project.

“My uncle lived at Clearbrook for a lot of his life because he had Down syndrome,” Claireabelle said. “I went to visit him and saw the gardens needed a bit of work because everything was dead. So two of my other friends decided to make it our Silver Award project.”

The Silver Award is the highest award a middle school-aged Girl Scout can earn and it gives girls the chance to show that they are leaders who are organized, determined and dedicated to improving their community.

“When we visited the gardens, we saw it wasn’t very pretty,” Lauren said. “So we decided to do this as our Silver Award project because we figured it would put the residents in a better mood if they saw a nice garden and had somewhere to sit in the shade when it’s sunny.”

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With help from the Arlington Heights Garden Club and their mothers, Kathryn Boudart and Kristin Balla, the girls developed a plan to revitalize the gardens at Clearbrook, the largest provider of home-based services for people with disabilities in the state of Illinois.

“The garden clubs helped us dig up the old plants and figure out where to plant the new ones,” Emily said. “They were a really big help. I’m not sure how well we would have been able to complete the project without them.”

Unfortunately, Claireabelle’s uncle, Bill Ignacek, who was a longtime resident at Clearbrook, passed away before the garden renovation was complete.

“My uncle touched a part of my life and I felt like I had to give back,” Claireabelle explained. “He taught me how to behave around other people and how to respect everyone equally, so I wanted to pay it forward. If he was still around, I think he would be very happy with it.”

All of the girls are proud of their work and plan to pursue their Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn.

“We were really surprised and happy and proud of ourselves that we were able to accomplish something like that,” Lauren said. “We learned that when you work hard as a group, you can accomplish a lot.”

Claireabelle agreed.

“I learned a lot from Girl Scouts, like how to give back, how to work with the community and how to work with other people,” Claireabelle said. “I think that giving back to your community is a very important part of your life because it does so much for you if you think about it.”

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Girl Scouts Celebrate ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day’ at Bank of America

Girl Scouts Celebrate ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day’ at Bank of America

The #GirlPower was strong at the Bank of America ‘Bring Your Daughter, Niece and Mentee to Work Day!’ Employees at the Bank of America financial center in downtown Chicago invited Nancy Wright, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, and three special guests — Girl Scouts Cadette Susan Tatelli, Anya Konieczka and Areesha Majeed — to speak about the importance of women in leadership.

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During her remarks, Wright discussed the growing number of women in leadership positions and connected this confidence in girls to the main character in the popular animated movie Zootopia and contestants on the reality singing show The Voice. She stressed the importance of trying again, and than failing at something can be a great stepping stone.

“To fail simply means it is your ‘First Attempt In Learning,'” explained Wright. “Remember, oftentimes, when you fail it makes you step back, rethink your approach and try again with even more passion, heart and power. And this is what makes all the difference moving forward.”

Meanwhile, the Girl Scout panelists spoke to their experiences in Girl Scouting and their contributions to their communities through service projects and leadership roles.

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Anya, an 11-year-old Girl Scout Junior, earned her Bronze Award after organizing a hair donation drive in Downers Grove, Illinois. She was inspired to start the project after her friend’s mother was diagnosed with cancer.

“I want everyone who has lost their confidence by losing their hair to find it again,” she said.

In the future, Anya hopes to continue her love of coding, and eventually code for a robot that will help find the cure for cancer.

Susan, a 13-year-old Girl Scout Senior, made headlines with her Silver Award project, which focused on the self-administration of epinephrine. She wants to help those who are still learning about their allergies and those who are not fully aware of what to do during a life-threatening reaction. Susan, who was recently appointed to Food Allergy and Reaction Education (FARE)’s Teen Advisory Group, wants to continue to help raise awareness about food allergies through her Gold Award.

Meanwhile, Majeed, a 19-year-old Girl Scout alumna and Brownie troop co-leader, discussed the importance of empowerment. The 19-year-old rising sophomore at Northwestern University in Evanston wants to be an actuary to study the measurement of empowerment and how this affects young girls.

About 50 Bank of America employees and their daughters, neices and mentees participated in the luncheon.

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“I share the same desire with everyone here today,” Wright said, “the desire to inspire girls and young women to pursue their dreams without reservations.”

 

Gurnee Girl Scout Creates Honor Guard for Fallen Firefighters

Gurnee Girl Scout Creates Honor Guard for Fallen Firefighters

NBC certainly made a hit with their show “Chicago Fire” and helped bring awareness to viewers about the trials and dangers of being an active firefighter, but one Girl Scout wanted to make a deeper impression with her Silver and Gold Awards.

Lauren Constantino of Troop 41413 in Gurnee, Illinois wanted to honor fallen firefighters in her Gold Award project and founded the Girl Scout Honor Guard for Fallen Fire Fighters (GSHGFFF). Her mission as State Commander of GSHGFFF is to promote public awareness and honor those who have sacrificed their lives in duty, as well as the honor guards and families.

“While I was working on getting together my flag training and volunteers for my Silver Award, I had an idea of creating my own honor guard, and to make something bigger out of what we were already trying to accomplish,” Lauren said. “Honor guards are a large aspect of my life. My dad was my inspiration for the project, because not only is he a fallen firefighter, but also he began the honor guard at the Gurnee Fire Department and participated in the state and national firefighter honor guards.”

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Lauren and her GSHGFFF team proudly participate in the Annual Honor Guard Convention at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois.

Since GSHGFFF’s founding in January 2015, Lauren and her 15 other members have performed many flag ceremonies, led color guards, participated in Memorial Day parades, as well as multiple events with Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois Honor Guard (AFFI HG) since May 2015.

“The most defining moment is when we were at the Illinois Fire Fighter Memorial ceremony. Our state governor actually talked about us in his speech!” Constantino said.  “It has been so amazing just to see the acceptance and support for the Girl Scout Honor Guard for Fallen Fire Fighters.”

Lauren, as well as the other Girl Scouts who helped her on this journey, were not only able to honor the firefighters, but also the Girl Scouts as they completed trainings, drills and events. Her project has even brought her closer to pursuing a career in law enforcement and possibly ROTC as she enters college in fall 2017. Her family, including her brother, who is a firefighter, is very proud of her accomplishments.

“It is not just a Gold Award project,” said Lauren. “It is an official, established honor guard to support and honor those who put themselves before us every day and put their lives on the line for us, as well as the families who stand by them, and the honor guard members who never forget them.”

For more information about the GSHGFFF, an application to join, or to start your own chapter, email Lauren at gshonorguardfff@outlook.com.

Downers Grove Teen Earns Girl Scout Silver Award

Downers Grove Teen Earns Girl Scout Silver Award

When Sophie Marro’s grandmother suffered a stroke a while back, the 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadette knew she wanted to do something that could help patients in rehab. After witnessing cancer patients struggle with seatbelts due to the portacath used for their chemotherapy, Sophie started making port pillows as part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project.

One weekend, 12 people and more than 250 port pillows later, Sophie, who lives in Downers Grove, was able to donate the items to Elmhurst Hospital Cancer Center, the hospital that treated her grandmother.

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“The patients were really happy to see them,” Sophie said. “They were glad to see someone was thinking of them. It felt really good and I was happy that I could give back to the community that helped my grandmother.”

As a result of her project, Sophie earned her Silver Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.

“I feel like I really honed in on three skills: leadership, organization and staying positive,” she said. “Leadership because I learned about accomplishing goal. Organization because there was a lot of material and people to organize to make sure everything ran smoothly.”

At one point while Sophie and her friends were making the pillows, all of the sewing machines broke because they were overworked.

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“We got a little frustrated, but it was important to keep an upbeat attitude,” she said.

Sophie, who’s been a Girl Scout since first grade, has plans to earn her Gold Award as well, which is the highest award in Girl Scouting.

“I participate in a lot of sports, but they don’t really teach citizenship or giving back to the community,” she said. “I’m really happy that Girl Scouts allows me to do that.”

Highland Park Girl Scout Earns Silver Award for Food Allergy Awareness

Highland Park Girl Scout Earns Silver Award for Food Allergy Awareness

For many children and teens, food allergies are a matter of life or death. But Susan Tatelli, a 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadette from Highland Park, Illinois, refuses to let her peanut allergy define her.

As part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project, Susan created a video showing her self-administering epinephrine, a medication used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions, during one of her anaphylactic reactions.

“I think it’s super exciting and incredible,” said Susan of the response her video has received so far. “I’ve gotten thank-you notes and emails from people all over saying their kids had anxiety about their allergies and the video has helped them. Parents say it helps them feel safer about their kids. I’m really happy and glad that it’s helping people. I think it’s great.”

Recently, Susan completed an 18-month enrollment in a clinical trail at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, which used oral immunotherapy to help combat her severe peanut allergy. Although not 100-percent cured, Susan is now able to enjoy activities such as going to the movies and flying on a plane without fear of an allergic reaction from being in close proximity to a peanut product.

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Susan after a reaction to the clinical trial.

On Sunday, May 15, Susan was a guest speaker at the 2016 Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) National Food Allergy Conference in Orlando, Florida where she shared her experience with anaphylaxis from a teen’s perspective.

“Learning to self-administer epinephrine is especially important with teens because they do stuff without their parents with them,” she explained. “If you’re somewhere having a reaction and your parents aren’t there, you have to know how to do it and take responsibility for it.”

In addition to the video for her Silver Award project, Susan has increased awareness about food allergies by hosting epinephrine readiness workshops at local troop meetings and conducting an EpiPen training session at her 13th birthday party.

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Susan teaching a Lake Forest Brownie troop about epinephrine readiness in April.

“It’s important for teens to teach your friends how to administer an EpiPen so if you’re around them and have a reaction, they know what to do. I recommend injecting an orange with an expired EpiPen for practice,” she suggested. “Teach them about your allergy so they can help keep you safe.”

Girl Scout Troop Stocks Veterans Home Pantry

Girl Scout Troop Stocks Veterans Home Pantry

Girl Scout Cadette Troop 30457 from Cedar Lake Service Unit 308 collected and delivered items to the Indiana Veterans Home in West Lafayette as their Silver Award project. The Silver Award is the highest achievable award for the Cadette Girl Scout. Their project was to help stock a cart that is supplied by the American Legion Auxiliary with items not normally available at the home for the residents. Ramen noodles, pudding, microwave popcorn, Vienna sausages, chips, snack cakes, batteries, socks and toiletries were among the items. Collection sites included Hanover Middle School, Lincoln and Wanatah elementary schools, LaCrosse High School and Strack and Van Til stores in both Schererville and Cedar Lake. The girls’ families also contributed to their collection.

Customers at the grocers were given lists with items needed and combined with collection boxes at the schools. More than 4500 individual items filled a 12’x8′ trailer. Terri Rene, the American Legion Auxiliary member, was happy to have her pantry at the Indiana Veterans Home restocked. The girls also provided a check for $200 from cash donations received along with gift cards to Sam’s Club and Target donated to the Troop by the stores.

To read the full story, visit nwitimes.com.