Girl Scouts make a difference with Valentine’s Day project

Scouts construct cards for Island seniors.

It was a feel-good community service project, a simple outpouring of love, said Kathy McDonald.

The service unit manager with 430 Mercer Island Girl Scouts spoke with pride about the scouts who participated in the organization’s Valentine’s Day challenge and made an impact on the senior living community residents with their handmade gifts.

“We need more of those things these days,” McDonald said of the project, which featured about 50 scouts constructing more than 350 valentine cards for the seniors who reside at Sunrise, Aegis, Aljoya, Island House and Covenant Living at the Shores assisted living and memory care units.

“When we made valentines, it was super fun to do arts and crafts stuff, and it felt good that people would be looking at our valentines and be happy. It was also neat to think that other troops were doing the same thing and together we can make a big difference,” said Kate deStwolinski, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from Troop 45306.

The “Scouting with Heart 2022” project, which was the brainchild of troop leaders and community service coordinators Kara Lucas and Heather Emery, began in January and the girls finished their gifts on Feb. 6. Pre-pandemic, the girls would normally deliver gifts in person and interact with residents, but a group of adults handed the valentines off at the facilities this year.

Everyone’s had to adjust how things are done over the last two years, McDonald said.

“One of the tenets of Girl Scouts is just to always be flexible. Lean into whatever we were able to do to keep it going and teach the girls why we were doing it,” she added about the uplifting gesture. “I know that it brought great joy to the residents because I heard that from the different senior living folks.”

Added Lucas and Emery in a joint quote: “Part of being a Girl Scout is serving and connecting with community. We look forward to doing the ‘Scouting with Heart’ program again next year. We’ve had lovely notes from the seniors enjoying their cards.”

Girl Scouts is all about fun, learning, friendship and leadership, McDonald said, adding that the Island features 30 troops consisting of about 300 girls in grades K-12.

Some of the scouts’ other community service projects were a Toys for Tots drive during Illuminate MI last December — when they gathered enough items to fill five minivans — work with their partner Mercer Island Presbyterian Church and repair work at Camp Robbinswold on the Hood Canal during their encamporee.

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Mercer Island Girl Scouts make valentines for local seniors. Courtesy photo

Mercer Island Girl Scouts make valentines for local seniors. Courtesy photo