Selfless service: Pequannock Girl Scouts provide comfort bags for cancer patients

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By Jillian Risberg 

For years they’ve been spreading their light, and now three cadettes from Troop 96488 Pequannock step it up for one of the highest honors in Girl Scouting — with their Silver Award Take Action project. 

Thirteen-year-old Riley Beringer, Sarah Robinson and Natalee Bilello, seventh-graders at Pequannock Valley Middle School put their altruistic desire to make a difference on full display.  

Riley, Robinson and Bilello are donating bags to support Atlantic Health System: (Morristown, Overlook, Chilton, Hackettstown, Newton) patients fighting all types of cancer.

“Cancer has a huge impact on families, including all of ours,” the girls say. “Our goal for this project is to help cancer patients get through the struggles they may face with positive vibes.”

Mary Fassnacht, oncology social worker at Chilton Medical Center took Riley, Robinson and Bilello through a day in the life of a cancer patient, educating them about different types and treatments.  

The girls asked what the patients could use to help them through this difficult time and are collecting a variety of items for the comfort bags, including: powder hydration, seat belt pillows, mastectomy pillows, cotton caps, surgical shirts, ice/heating packs, blankets, socks, positive items (sticker, messages), hand cream, mints, bath soaps, necklaces, lip balm, breakfast bags, baby wipes, candles (in calming scents), fidget items, coloring books, notebooks, crafts, bandanas, crackers, meals/soups, bracelets, teas, healthy snacks, candy (ginger), gum, cotton caps, reusable tote bags.

“Riley, Sarah, and Natalee set a goal to complete 150 bags but with the support of donations they will be closer to doubling that number or more,” says troop leader, Kristi Beringer. “Items they still need most are blankets, colored pencils and pill cases. They want their project to put a smile on the faces of anyone receiving a bag.”

They tossed around several ideas for their Silver Award project but realized they were already bonded by a common denominator, cancer.   

Sarah’s grandmother and Riley’s great-grandma (now deceased), as well as a dear friend are breast cancer survivors.  

Natalee’s grandmother lost her battle to brain cancer in 2021.  

“Each girl remembers how difficult it was for people they love to go through treatment. They wanted to bring comfort and support to cancer patients,” the Troop Leader says they were proud to see their project take shape.

Their Fighting Cancer 4 Every Ribbon represents one disease that comes in different ribbons.  

Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low, who herself died of breast cancer once said, ‘The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.’

The girls are in the collection stage of the project until June 1, 2022, when they will submit their application for the award in September 2022. Once approved, they receive their Silver Award at a Girl Scout Ceremony in March 2023. 

So far, they have completed approximately 30 hours of the 40-hour requirement needed, and will most likely finish closer to 60. 

“Since Riley, Natalee, and Sarah were Daisy Girl Scouts in kindergarten they completed volunteer hours for the community, as well as charitable organizations such as: Gains of HopeSamaritan Purse, Veteran Services, town clean ups, painting the town pink for breast cancer, marching in the Memorial Day parade, 9/11 Luminaries, and troop food drives for the local food pantry,” Beringer says.  

According to Girl Scouts of the USA, Girl Scouts bring their dreams to life by building curiosity, kindness and a can-do spirit.  As they earn badges, they help their community and deepen friendships. It’s what Girl Scouting is all about.

 

The three girls, along with other members of their troop have received the Girl Scout Bronze Award for their Kindness Rocks project. 

It consisted of painting over 2,000 rocks and placing rock gardens (to remind kids to be kind everyday and stand up against bullying) at two elementary schools in town.  

“These girls learn the importance of compassion, and how they can be a positive influence in their community — even at their age,” says the troop leader. “They will see how people come together to support a cause.”

To learn more or to donate, visit www.fightingcancer4everyribbon.com.

 

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