Columns and stories of life from the Fredericksburg area.
Monstrous project has heart
OUTREACH: SCOUT BLANKETS YOUNG PATIENTS WITH LOVE
BY LIANA BAYNE
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Recent Colonial Forge High School graduate Samantha Harvey spent the last months of her senior year planning a big trip.
Not to the beach, though. She was headed to Inova Fairfax Hospital.
Harvey delivered about 200 homemade security blankets to the Falls Church hospital earlier this month.
It’s the culmination of a yearlong effort to earn the highest honor in Girl Scouts: the Gold Award.
Harvey chose to provide blankets to pediatric patients to the hospital because her older brother was a patient there for about six weeks in 2002. He had complications from a ruptured appendix. He’s now 22 and a graduate of High Point University in North Carolina.
“We know what it’s like to be on the other side,” said their mother, Paige Harvey.
She said all three of her kids have been in and out of hospitals during their childhoods. Because of that, supporting hospitalized children is important to the family.
Samantha Harvey spent almost a year on the project. She first had to propose it to local Girl Scout leaders. Then she had to collect donations for the blankets, and then create them.
“I went to stores like Walmart and Target and asked for donations of blankets and fabric,” Harvey said. “My friends and family helped with the sewing.”
Paige Harvey said the family was able to borrow sewing machines from friends and neighbors. The dining-room table became a mini factory, with six sewing machines often operating simultaneously as people stopped by to lend a hand.
Although the blankets were made in different sizes and materials to appeal to patients ranging from infants to teens, they have one thing in common.
“There’s a little monster doll with a heart on it on every blanket,” Harvey said. “It’s on a little piece of fabric that I cut out and sewed on.”
PUTTING FRIENDS TO WORK
After each blanket got its lovable monster, it was rolled up and tied with a ribbon.
Harvey said one of the hardest parts of the project was matching each blanket with a similarly colored monster and ribbon.
Paige Harvey recalled a moment when Samantha was at an all-district band audition with her classmates. Some of the students had to wait hours to audition. They passed the time cutting monster-eye circles out of fabric.
Harvey said it took about six months to secure approval for the project, and another six months or so to create all the blankets.
Once she completes the paperwork associated with the project, she’ll receive a Gold Award, the Girl Scouts’ equivalent to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle award. Both honors recognize completion of major community service projects—the culmination of many years of Scouting.
Harvey had to complete other community service and Girl Scout badges before she was even allowed to pitch her project idea.
JOY OF SERVICE
The project marks the end of a 15-year career in Girl Scouts.
Harvey said one of her reasons for staying with the Girl Scouts for so long was her love of community service. Another was wanting to stay with her friends.
Her family moved from the Brooke Point district to the Colonial Forge district before Harvey started high school. By remaining in Troop 327, she was able to stay in touch with her old friends even after she didn’t go to school with them anymore.
Harvey’s troop has participated in other community-service events, including a weekend camp for all Girl Scouts in the Brooke Point area. She, along with others from her troop, earned a Silver Award for organizing that weekend.
Girl Scouting, Harvey said, “has been really fun and a great experience, and I hope every girl has the opportunity to participate.”
Harvey’s activities extend beyond Scouts. She has played the clarinet since sixth grade, and participated in the Colonial Forge High School marching band and music honor society. She also works at a Little Caesars pizzeria.
Harvey plans to attend East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., in the fall, where she hopes to study graphic design and join the marching band and student activities board.
She said she hopes young patients who receive her blankets will be inspired by the work.
“I want to let them know even when you’re older you can still participate and help out your community,” Harvey said. “I hope they think it’s something cool and they want to do something for other people, too.”
Liana Bayne: 540/374-5444