CRANFORD, NJ — The Girl Scouts of Cranford Service Unit 48 has announced that 24 of its members recently earned the Silver Award, which is the highest honor a Cadette Girl Scout can receive. To achieve the honor, Cadettes identify an issue they care about, research it and take action. Cadettes, who are in sixth, seventh or eighth grade, work alone or collaborate in small teams to earn the award. The projects, which require a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer work, addressed a wide range of needs, from supporting veterans to helping children in need.
“Due to the pandemic, we were unable to recognize and celebrate our Silver Award recipients until earlier this summer, so this group reflects two years’ worth of work and service,” said Elayna Torsone, manager of Service Unit 48. “We are so proud of the Girl Scouts and their volunteer advisers for remaining committed to the community and identifying areas where they could make a positive impact.”
“Power Down, Charge Up!” was the name of Gianna Pantastico’s project. Gianna met with more than 100 children in a series of book clubs, in an effort to get the children excited about reading and encourage them to spend less time on devices such as phones and tablets. Gianna is a member of Troop 40814.
Katelyn Shaw of Troop 40332 focused her project on helping children. As part of her efforts, she created 13 Family Game Night baskets that were given to families the day they completed adoptions. She also volunteered with TopSoccer of the Cranford Soccer Club, a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with special needs.
Hannah Symanski of Troop 40444 wanted to honor the legacy of her grandfather, a veteran, while addressing a community need. Her project involved beautifying the Cranford VFW Post 335.
Breona Pizzuta of Troop 40814 also honored veterans with her project. She hosted a “Veterans Day Palooza” that included education components as well as a card-making event.
Emily Doyle of Troop 40583 put her focus on friendship. She constructed two 4-foot friendship benches and donated them to Saint Michael School of Cranford. “I hope that students will be able to talk to each other and make new friends,” said Emily. “Sitting on the bench can also let other students know a friend is there for them.”
Julia Cook of Troop 40693 created a series of events to safely connect different age groups during the COVID-19 crisis. Projects included painting pumpkins for senior citizens, holiday caroling and making cards for cancer patients.
Jacklyn Kamm of Troop 40693 collected supplies for a local animal shelter and made donations to benefit the wildlife affected by the Australian wildfires.
Rachel Westervelt of Troop 40753 taught other Girl Scouts how to cook, so that they could support friends and family in need. She was inspired after seeing how her own grandparents benefited from meal assistance during a difficult time.
Georgia Barnhard, a Girl Scout Juliette, created a Little Free Library in her neighborhood, as a way to encourage reading and build community connection. Girl Scout Juliettes are not affiliated with a specific troop but are registered members.
A group of seven Cadettes from Troop 40951 put their focus on Cranford to create social studies resources for third- and fourth-grade students. They created a pamphlet called “Cranford Through the Ages,” to complement the curriculum on New Jersey history. In addition, they developed a history lesson that included noteworthy women from the township, historical sites and important events. Grace Donnelly, Maeve Higgins, Abigail Maroney, Sabrina Prata, Adela Rakoski, Madelyn Swanson and Alexandra Toto collaborated on the project.
Ava Lanier and Leah Rogers of Troop 40583 focused on the importance of dog adoption and rescue. In addition to creating a website and education programs, they had a collection that resulted in a donation of $1,300 worth of supplies to local animal rescues.
Four Cadettes from Troop 40693 used their creative talents to add inspirational quotations and artwork to Livingston Avenue School in Cranford. The messages focused on good sportsmanship, kindness and striving for achievement. Julia Billow, Sarah Butka, Kristen Fries and Lily Goodwin collaborated on the project.
The Girl Scouts of Cranford boasts more than 1,139 Girl Scout members in 71 troops and Juliettes, making it one of the largest nonprofit organizations in town. The Cranford Service Unit is a part of the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey Council, which is part of the Girl Scouts of the USA. To learn more about the Girls Scouts of Cranford, visit www.cranfordgirlscouts.com.
Photos Courtesy of Kerry Rokicki