Girl Scouts step up to house Kings Park vets

Girl Scouts step up to house Kings Park vets

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The Kings Park-based Girl Scout Troop 408 gathers outside its community VFW hall to celebrate their achievement of helping install a brand new rail for veterans. Photo from Camille Cardoza

Kings Park Girl Scout Troop 408 is doing a lot more than just selling cookies. They are helping to refurbish homes for veterans in their community.

It all started last summer when the fifth graders from R.J.O. Intermediate School in Kings Park began selling jewelry to raise money to install a railing at their local Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall as part of their bronze award. Their initial efforts brought in $1,800 and helped pay for a brand new railing that has since been installed outside the building in November.

Now, the Girl Scouts are onto even bigger and better things to help out.

“They want to get out there and get their hands dirty on the job,” co-leader Camille “Mima” Cardoza said.

The girls have been working diligently selling jewelry and purple hearts to the community to help raise more money for the project. Every Sunday throughout the farmer’s market season, the girls pitched their ideas and sold as many bracelets and necklaces as they could to help raise the money for the railing. And looking forward, Cardoza said they plan on doing the same thing this season with the hope of raising even more money for the veterans.

Through the nonprofit Fairway Foundation, two mortgage-free homes will be awarded to Purple Heart recipients who have fought in Afghanistan or Iraq. This initiative will be orchestrated through the joint efforts of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D), the Fairway Foundation and the community.

Rosemarie Kluepfel, who works for Fairway’s Independent Mortgage Corporation, and is helping run the foundation, said she was glad to see the community stepping up for its veterans to show their appreciation. The goal, Cardoza said, is to get at least two homes and gut them to cater to the needs of the veterans and their families. People in the community are donating most of the labor and supplies.

The Girl Scouts are also working on raising money to help pay for the essential materials, Cardoza said.

Not only will the Girl Scouts raise money, but they will also help gut and refurbish the homes whenever their schedule allows it. They said they look forward to seeing the veterans’ reactions when they see their new home.

“I’m excited to help fix up the houses for them,” 10-year-old Talia Matonti said. “I just want them to feel comfortable and be happy because they did really nice things for us.”

The young girls said they understand the sacrifices the veterans made, and they have a deep appreciation for their efforts, which is why they want to help. They feel it’s their turn to sacrifice their time and do whatever they can, the girls said.

“I want to help because they gave so much to us and hardly anyone gives back to them,” Mikayla Donohue, 10, said. “It feels good to give back to them.”

Caitlin McNulty, 10, echoed the other Girl Scouts’ comments, reflecting on the moment the railing was unveiled at the VFW hall. She called it one of the happiest days as she saw all the smiles on the veterans’ faces.

The girls plan to continue their jewelry sales and can be found at the Kings Park farmers market beginning in May. All the proceeds will go toward materials to help build the homes for the veterans.

Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan and received a Purple Heart can go to veteranshomegiveaway.org and apply if they are in need of a home. The application deadline is April 15.