Each year, Girl Scout Troop 2352 finds themselves among the top cookie-sellers among the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, and each year, they strive to use those funds to do their part in helping their local community.
While delicious, the cookies also actually play an important role for Scouts, as all of the proceeds generated from the cookie program stay within the local council to support programs for Scouts in the community.
This year, the Scouts took on the challenge of finding the best way to donate their funds as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
While still selling cookies, junior-level Scouts in the troop were already searching for a project for their Bronze Award and, in February, they met with city of Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smith to get his input in identifying a need in their community.
The award, which is given to Scouts who do community service to give to something bigger than themselves, is also the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can achieve.
“We were going to build a blessing box, and we were going to put it in front of the Santa Clarita Food Pantry,” said Sophia Rose Pennington, 11, “and basically what that is is we were going to build a box and just leave it outside to put canned or non-perishable foods in there and encourage people to refill.”
Kaitlyn Berg, 11, added that the box would allow those in need, like the homeless community, to pick up a few needed items when the food pantry wasn’t open.
After meeting on Zoom to regroup, the girls decided on a new plan, making masks for the local homeless community, which Charlize Beato, 11, thought was a good idea, so they, too, could be protected from COVID-19.
“We thought that making masks needed more attention because we don’t want the virus to spread,” Pennington added.
Sophia Joerg, 11, agreed, adding, “I think it was important to make the masks because everyone’s going through something that’s really, really tough, and there are people out there getting coronavirus every day.”
Soon, the troop got to work, meeting on Zoom to compare patterns and help each other out. Each Scout then set out to make 30 masks — 20 adult-sized and 10 for kids — using their cookie funds for supplies.
“I did a sewing camp a couple years ago, but I don’t think I’ve sewn since then so I had to get used to it again,” Pennington said.
While some had sewing experience, many did not, including 10-year-old Sean Sherman.
“My mom had to help me by teaching me how to sew the masks, and we didn’t have a sewing machine, so we had to hand-sew all of the masks,” Sherman said.
Similarly, Berg says she couldn’t sew either, “like at all.”
“I know at one point when I was cutting out the fabric and after I had sewed the outline of the mask, (I realized) the fabric was the wrong way,” Berg said. “It was a princess fabric and the princess was (backward) because I wasn’t thinking about that, I was thinking how we can make more masks out of the fabric. So, I learned from my mistakes a lot.”
It was Beato’s first time using a sewing machine as well, so though it was hard at first, she said she used YouTube tutorials to practice.
“It took me a few days, and then I got the hang of it,” she said. “But then the sewing machine jammed, and we had to use hand sewing.”
Each mask was then packaged with a note and travel-sized bottle of laundry detergent so that each recipient could wash their mask after they’d been used.
“All of the troop went, and we dropped off all of our masks (at Bridge to Home),” Sherman said. “It felt really nice to be doing something good for people who couldn’t have masks, and it was really fun to create the masks knowing we were doing something good.”
“I just like the way it just came together so well,” Joerg added. “I’m really proud of our troop because I know we worked really hard, and … we all made a change in the world, even if it was small, we could make a big impact.”