EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – While most high school juniors are busy texting, checking Facebook and getting ready for the college trail, Tuckahoe High School’s Kaila Veal has kept busy in other ways, organizing a project with international scope to help sick children.
As part of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, Kaila, 16, created “Stickers for Hope,” which sought to create an annual sticker book, activity book and coloring drive to generate donations for patients at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
“The girl scout coordinator at Maria Fareri said that children need activities to do when they’ve come out of surgery and to take home,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do a project that helped children that were sick, so I came up with the idea of giving them coloring and sticker books to do activities.”
Kaila has been hard at work, organizing a sticker book drive at William E. Cottle Elementary School and a bake sale at the train station. Donations were also solicited from students at the Glenelg School of Abu Dhabi and Casa dei Bambini in the Netherlands, where Kaila has family connections. The international students collected sticker and coloring books and a created a banner for the hospital.
“It was amazing to have an international project. The fact that people around the world were willing to help these children really touched me,” Kaila said. “I hope to spearhead an annual drive at [Cottle]. I love the feeling that I get when I help someone else, which is why I loved this project.”
“Stickers for Hope” was nearly dealt a fatal flaw over the summer, when Kaila lost both her great grandmother and grandfather within a week of one another right after her Gold Project was approved. Kaila’s mother, Salihah Denman, she was worried that her daughter would lose focus and drop the project, but she said Kaila’s perseverance is something her departed family members would be proud of.
“I was a extremely worried that it might hold her back from being able to do her project, but I think she wanted them be proud,” she said. “It was very hard on her, but it gave her even more incentive to get it done.”
Kaila, who is also an honor student taking three advanced placement classes, credits the Girl Scouts, which she has participated in since she was four, for helping her during those trials, and for helping her become more extroverted. She added that projects like "Stickers for Hope" are what being a scout is all about.
“Girls Scouts have taught me to be kind and never give up. It teaches you to have a positive outlook on life and those around you,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for so long that it has become a part of me. In the future, I will think about the principles that Girl Scouts taught me when I do anything.”