Three local Girl Scouts have turned their Silver Award project into a continuous act of giving.
Caroline Woo, Mia Cottone and Abbi Sasson, all from Troop 551, decided for their Silver Award project that they would build birdhouses for the patients at Stony Brook Cancer Center. Because the project was involved, and would take some time, the girls decided while their project was in the works they would lift patients’ spirits with handmade wreaths.
The group learned the craft from Carmen Tornos, a professor with the Renaissance School of Medicine, and the completed decorations were hung in the common patient areas. After a few months, the hospital raffled the wreaths to the cancer center staff to show appreciation.
The three said they enjoyed designing the wreaths so much that they decided to continue making them to raise money for the nonprofit Room4Love based in East Setauket, which provides bedroom makeovers for children with cancer.
The girls, who are all ninth-graders at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, said the Silver Award project, where each Scout must create something that can have a lasting impact, requires Scouts to put in 50 hours of service. In addition to the birdhouses and wreaths, the girls put together goody bags for the patients and handed out birdseed for them to go outside, feed the birds and get some fresh air. The three said they chose the cancer center to help older patients, who are sometimes overlooked.
“We really learned that just little things can make a lasting impact on people’s lives,” Abbi said.
The other girls agreed.
“Even the small things that you don’t think matter to anyone, they do matter to a lot of people,” Caroline said.
The Girls Scouts said their parents have been a big help in providing materials for the wreaths, which they have been making all year round for every season. When it comes to Room4Love, the girls have been making the decorations for the nonprofit to raffle off, or they create them for family and friends who in turn donate to the organization. Mia was already familiar with Room4Love, which was started by her cousins, Maggie and Bella Diehl, eight years ago.
“It’s a good organization, and it helps a lot of kids,” Mia said.
Girl Scout Leader Sonya Cottone, Mia’s mother, said that she and co-leader Anne Hansen-Crowley are proud of the girls, who are willing to help out as much as they can.
“It makes us really proud, and we feel lucky to have a great group of kids,” she said.
Lucy Diehl, from Room4Love, said her daughters Maggie and Bella, despite being away at college, are still actively running the nonprofit, and she said all of them are humbled and grateful for all the support those in the Three Village area have given.
She added she’s not surprised that young people like the Girl Scouts are helping out.
“We live in a really good community that is always looking to give and looking to help, and certainly these kids, by making these wreaths, are doing just that,” Diehl said.
Eydie Woo, Caroline’s mother, said she credits the Girl Scouts for laying down good values for her daughter and friends. She said while the girls didn’t work directly with the patients, they did tour the hospital and saw the pediatric side, as well as the adult side, which had an impact on them.
“They’ve realized how fortunate they are, and that they’re able to do things like that and give back because there are kids who are really sick and they want to help them,” she said.
As for a large project such as the Silver Award, the girls had some advice to share.
“Even if it seems like getting started is hard, once you get in, you see just how rewarding and how almost eye-opening it is to realize the impact of what you can have on the world,” Abbi said.
For more information about Room4Love, visit www.room4love.org.