Orion Girl Scouts win Bronze Award

by Mindy Carls correspondent
This view shows some of the care bags the Orion Girl Scouts prepared.
Orion Junior Girl Scouts deliver care bags to patients at the Trinity Cancer Center, Moline. The girls received the Bronze Award for their efforts.

By creating care bags for cancer patients, Girl Scouts in Orion Junior Troop 4446 have received the Bronze Award, the highest honor for fourth and fifth graders.

The Orion girls are Abigail Downing, Alivea Hull, Aubree James, Bella Nightingale, Irelyn Thorndyke, Jenna Peterson, Lilah Jacobs, Lilly Stone, Lyla Tennant, McKenna Hooks, Natalie Versluys and Sadie Appel. Their leaders are Tara Appel, Michele James and Lia Nightingale.

They saw everything that Nicole Weaver, a former troop leader, and Sadie’s mother Tara went through while undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Nightingale said. Both women lost their hair and had side effects from treatment.

Inspired to do something for cancer patients, the girls decided to assemble care bags. They invited a representative of Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities to help them learn more about cancer treatment and what items could be included in the bags.

The Girl Scouts decided to include hand sanitizer, tissues, lip balm, hard candies to help cover the taste of chemotherapy, a Fidget Cube anxiety-relief tool, and a positivity tin that included a handwritten note from each of the girls.

Notes had positive quotes such as, “Don’t let silly little things steal your happiness,” Nightingale said.

Each cosmetic-sized bag took a little over an hour to sew. The lined bags had zippers.

The Girl Scouts delivered 50 bags to the Trinity Cancer Center on the UnityPoint complex in Moline. During the project, which was nearly two years long, two other bags were given to the grandmother of a troop member and a family friend of another girl.

“This was an eye-opening project for many of the girls,” Nightingale said. “The educational presentation from Gilda's Club helped the girls develop a feeling of empathy for cancer patients undergoing treatment. Several girls discovered an enjoyment of sewing.”

This was the longest project — 22 months from beginning to end, partially because of COVID-19 restrictions — the girls had ever completed, Nightingale said.

“The girls really enjoyed this project and worked together in all aspects, from picking, tracing and cutting the fabric, to sewing and filling the bags,” the leader said. “They hope the positivity tins provide a daily reminder that others are thinking of them and encouraging them along this difficult journey. All had such a sense of accomplishment when dropping off the bags at the Cancer Center.

Some of the girls shared their thoughts on the project.

“This project made my whole body fill with happiness,” Sadie Appel said. “I wish I could see them giving the bags to the children, but I could tell by the looks on the workers’ faces how much it meant to them. I loved this project and not just the ending result was fun, but sewing the bags and stuffing them was just as fun.”

“When we dropped the bags off at the Cancer Center, it was so nice to see how excited they were,” Bella Nightingale said. “It made me happy that our hard work will bring joy to the patients.”