Brashinger: Mokena Girl Scout troop helps cancer patients
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org January 23, 2014 2:22PM
Troop leaders Jennifer O'Dell and Jennifer Foltz, (in back row) oversaw a project by the girls in Mokena Girl Scout Cadette Troop 70442 to make "chemo survival kits" to help cancer patients through chemotherapy. | Ginger Brashinger/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 27, 2014 6:10AM
Four Cadettes in Mokena Girl Scout Troop 70422 recently discovered how little things done from the heart can lead to meaningful results.
Hannah O’Dell, 12, a member of Troop 70422, said she was “looking for summer ideas” online on the Pinterest website when a Pin about “chemo bags” caught her eye. She learned that the bags were filled with a variety of items that might benefit a cancer patient while sitting through chemotherapy.
Hannah contacted the Mokena Cancer Support Center to find out if they knew of cancer patients who might use the bags if the Scouts were to make them. Center officials were not only greatly interested, but they gave the troop a wish list of items to include in the “chemo survival kits.”
At the troop’s first September meeting, Hannah and troop members Paige Fitzpatrick, 11, Jessica LiVigni, 11, and Grace Foltz, 12, discussed collecting items for the bags with troop leaders Jennifer O’Dell and Jennifer Foltz.
Hannah put plans in place to collect items from younger Scouts at an October “Exploration Station” overnight event in honor of Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday. Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, died of breast cancer, making the collection even more meaningful, she said.
A large box of items collected that weekend inspired the Cadettes to ask for donations at their school, Mokena Junior High. Boxes placed in sixth-grade homerooms filled up with enough lip balm, candy, water, magazines, hand lotion and other wish list items to fill 50 bags. Someone donated material for the bags.
“I was surprised at how many donations we got (at school),” Grace Foltz said.
But the surprises didn’t end there.
The girls prepared a large jar with a description of the project and placed it in a dollar store, Dollar Does It, in Mokena, with the approval of store owners Tammy Dean and Brenda O’Brien. More than $50 was donated in one month, enough to fund items for 25 more kits, O’Dell said.
Jennifer Foltz said the Scouts were surprised by people’s generosity.
“We dumped (the money) out on the table, and we all were blown away,” she said. “We were all very surprised at how much was collected.”
The girls agreed that the project was of benefit to them, too. Because the Cadettes had to learn to sew to make the bags for the project, they each earned a Girl Scout sewing badge.
But the Cadettes, whose lives have each been touched by cancer through family or friends, have found the lessons of the heart even more important to them.
To donate to the “chemo survivor kits” or to help make Troop 70442’s project a sustainable one, email email@example.com.