Generational generosity

Bridesburg-based Girl Scout Troop 9378 running community project to benefit seniors.

A nod to your elders: Some of the community’s youngest residents, members of Girl Scout Troop 9378, are hoping to impact the senior citizens in Bridesburg with their community service project. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

Dozens of girls bubbled with excitement last Thursday in their meeting room at St. John Cantius as they listened to Brownie leader Maggie Burns speak.

“What we’re going to do is give back to the community that gives so much to us during our bake sales and events, the senior citizens,” she said.

Burns is referring to the community project Bridesburg-based Girl Scout Troop 9378 began a week prior.

The entire troop will collect monetary and item donations until the end of March, all to benefit the generations that came before them, specifically the “shut-ins.”

“It’s going to be for the older people who can’t get out on their own. Some might not have family, and we want to help,” said Shelly Swystula, whose granddaughter was one of the first to join when the program started at the Bridesburg Rec Center almost five years ago.

“We are going to make care packages for them, write letters and deliver the packages to them with the leaders,” Burns continued. “No donation is too little. Items like travel sizes are great.”

Swystula spoke to Miss Jackie who provided the list of items for the seniors and contact information for Bev Thompson, an employee at Rose Funeral Home, who provided names of potential seniors the project could benefit.

She intends to reach out to staff at St. John Cantius for further individual recommendations.

“We did a project a couple years ago for foster children, and it turned out really well. We collected clothes and everybody donated and we ended up with at least 20 big, black trash bags of clothes,” said Swystula, who is also a leader. “We figured, this one, we’re going to go the opposite of children and do the seniors.”

While helping the seniors is the heart of the project, troop leaders hope to instill lifelong values in the girls, too.

“We really want to teach them respect and bring back the morals of how kids should act with adults,” Swystula said. “Our girls are respectful, but we want this to be an ongoing thing.”

“If it wasn’t for them, they wouldn’t be here. We want to give them a good view of where their foundation came from and a sense of community pride,” said Alicea Salzman, who has two nieces involved with the troop and was previously a leader.

And, although the girls will earn a badge for participating in the project, they are more concerned about caring for the seniors in the community.

“It’s important to help them because sometimes when you get older, it’s harder to do stuff on your own. I hope they feel more happy and more loved,” said Emilee Davis, 11. “It’s like they’re the tree and we’re the branches because if they didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be here.”

Keara Riley, 15, is the oldest member of the troop.

“We’re collecting items for the older people in our community, and I hope the seniors get some more resources because of this,” she said.

For Sabrina Paxton, 13, the community service project is one that hits close to home.

“I’m excited to help the shut-ins because my Grammy actually is one. She lives in Florida and her husband died a few years ago, so it kinda hits hard for me,” she said. “I always help my grandmom who lives here, so I’m excited to help people I don’t know.”

Making the connection with those the troop didn’t know previously is part of the overall goal.

“We hope to start a relationship with them so if they do need something, they can call us and girls with parents can stop over,” Swystula said. “We just want to start communication between us and the older people in the neighborhood so they feel comfortable reaching out.”

Girl Scout Troop 9378 will accept donations of money and new items until the end of March. Suggested items include but are not limited to toiletries, blankets, clothing, candy, household items and stationery supplies. To donate or for more details, call Shelly at 215–307–6847 or Alicea at 267–265–6644.