For eleven of her sixteen years, Samantha Luscombe has been a Girl Scout, focusing on service to the community and others. Samantha recently designed a project that she felt would serve the community on several levels. Although the project spanned only four months instead of the suggested six month duration for this award, she worked for more than 144 hours of that time.
Samantha identified a need to comfort children in painful and stressful situations where police, fire or rescue services are required or in hospital or homeless shelter environments. She remembered how reassuring her stuffed animals were to her when she was younger, and she decided that these children could benefit from having animals of their own. She also felt that this project could promote positive relationships between the children who receive the animals and the police officers, firefighters or rescue workers who ultimately give them out.
On yet a third level, Samantha decided not just to collect stuffed animals, but she wanted to use this project to teach younger children the joy of helping others by having elementary school aged children come to stuff an animal for another child in need. Samantha created a website, wrote newspaper articles, and made fliers to place in local stores and restaurants to advertise the event. She solicited donations of supplies and asked individuals to "Adopt a Bear for the Fair," by purchasing an unstuffed animal and donating it to the fair. She found 27 adult and teen helpers for the event through Girl Scouting, church bulletins and school newsletters.
In all, 155 animals were donated to the Westfield, NJ Police, Fire and Rescue departments, the Hospitality for the Homeless Network through Church of St. Helen in Westfield, and the Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, NJ. The animals are being distributed to children present at police calls, home fires and accidents, and to those in the hospital and homeless networks.
During her project, Samantha received an e-mail from an eight year old boy with brain cancer. He had seen her website and loved the project. He told her how much his animals help him in the hospital and during his chemotherapy sessions. He "adopted' five bears to help other children. Samantha was so impressed with this caring child that she has kept in touch with him and his mother ever since. Her latest project is to collect picture post cards from all 50 states and as many foreign countries as possible to show him "the world" and how many people care about him. She says that he's often stuck in hospitals and at home after treatments, and she wanted to let him "travel" during those times.
Samantha is further continuing her work to help others with plans of running a Hepatitis C awareness day, working at a Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 14th, and helping at a senior/teen dance planned for later next year. She will also be running a Brownie Girl Scout Troop for the next 2 years as a Girl Scout Leader in Training.