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A Girl Scout Brings Hope to Others Through Her Gold Award Project

A Girl Scout Brings Hope to Others Through Her Gold Award Project

The highest achievement in Girl Scouts is the Gold Award, an individual project by a Girl Scout that demonstrates and utilizes leadership skills while also addressing an issue in the community that makes the world a better place.

Because Shaela O’Keefe had volunteered at Help 4 Hope, a nonprofit organization in Coal City that, according to its website, brings “hope to those in need by providing basic life necessities to anyone, regardless of age, income or residency,” the teen parishioner at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Coal City knew that it was the perfect place to make a difference. 

So, starting last year, the high school senior began working on the project, which ended in March of this year, to address the needs of the less fortunate.  

She realized that Help 4 Hope does not get donations or help from any food drives in the area. She also knew that there is a constant need for food, personal products and other supplies for those who turn to Help 4 Hope for assistance, along with raising awareness of the organization in the community. 

So she created and implemented a “letters of love” box so that people could write supportive and heartfelt letters to encourage those who frequented Help 4 Hope. She also constructed a drop-off box and micro pantry/blessing box where people could donate supplies and food.

O’Keefe also placed collection bins at various local businesses and organizations to increase the number of potential areas where people could donate. The bins also acted to raise awareness for the need in the community to help others.

Finally, during the height of the pandemic, she planned a donation drive-through in which community members donated items and supplies from their car trunks. 

During her project, and in achieving the Gold Award, she said she learned about the importance of community involvement — the Braidwood council of the Knights of Columbus, for instance, was very helpful — and the power of galvanizing people to come together. 

“We have to help each other out, especially now with the pandemic,” O’Keefe said. “It’s more important now more than ever.”

She also learned some very valuable spiritual lessons.

“I learned to trust in the Lord,” she said. “During my project, there were many obstacles to overcome, especially with COVID. I had to trust He was going to make it ok as long as I put my heart and soul into it. If my intentions are good, I have to put the rest in God’s hands.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION on Help 4 Hope, go to the following site: