PAWLET, Vt. (NEWS10) — Girl Scout Olivia Coolidge is turning a fundraising project into a way of providing a little cheer to seniors who may be alone this holiday season.
This holiday season, the 12-year-old decided to raise money for her Silver Award project, the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette (grades six to eight) can achieve.
To raise the funds, she is making holiday stockings, filling them with gift items and giving them to residents at a local nursing home who have no family to visit them.
For a $10 donation, Olivia offered people in the community a chance to bring a smile to a senior who may be lonely on Christmas Day. Of that donation, $2 to $3 went toward Oliva’s Silver Award project expenses (art supplies, graphic design, canvas, framing, etc.)
Olivia first learned about the loneliness of nursing home residents after spending weeks visiting her grandmother at various nursing homes when she was younger.
“My grandmother wasn’t doing well, and over two years, she would have to go in and out of various nursing homes for rehabilitation,” Olivia said. “My mom would take me when she visited and many people would come up to me and hold my hand or hug me.
“One day, we were visiting and a nurse mentioned that they were doing a collection for items they needed to give to residents who had no one. My mom ‘adopted an elderly person’ and we bought him some socks, lotion and PJs. After that, it was something we just did each holiday, even after my grandmother died in 2016.”
She hoped to secure donations for 25 stockings by Dec. 15. But with the help of social media, Olivia’s fundraiser gained a lot of traction.
In one week, Olivia raised enough money to provide a stocking for all 88 residents at Slate Valley for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Granville, New York.
“I wanted to give stockings to ‘Forgotten Seniors’ and when my fundraiser took off, I reached out to other nursing homes, but they didn’t call me back,” Olivia said. “I told this to Slate Valley and they motivated me to donate more stockings to their other residents (meaning, those with families) because residents who have families haven’t been able to see them and are depressed. With COVID-19 and safety concerns, most residents haven’t been able to see loved ones or participate in community or facility events. I don’t want anyone to feel they are forgotten and alone.”
With the money she’s raised, Olivia will begin working on her Silver Award project, which consists of making a mural featuring Girl Scouts in their various uniforms from different time periods. Her graphic-photo design mural will feature text (such as the Girl Scout code), various favorite cookie flavors and badges. It will be installed at a nursing home to help elders recall happy memories of their youth.
She is also writing up her “Forgotten Senior” stocking gift fundraiser for other girls to adopt so more seniors can be helped in 2021. Part of this includes designing a special community badge for the girls to earn after they complete their community project.
Additionally, Olivia plans to make Easter baskets for seniors and double her stocking fundraiser in 2021.
Oliva is grateful to the people who helped her: “Thank you to all who cared and gave a lonely elderly nursing home resident a present this Christmas.”