Two Middle School students recently provided a world of help to children around the globe with serious medical needs.
Emerson Marling '24 and Sarah Glassman '25 are Cadette Scouts in Troop #919. When they started thinking about their Girl Scout Silver Award Project about a year ago, they agreed they wanted to do something that would benefit the community.
Along with fellow Scout Gabriella Bergstrom, they decided to help Operation Smile, a Virginia Beach-based charity that provides free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with dental and facial conditions.
“We really wanted to help them," Emerson said.
The girls went to work, with guidance from Jennifer McKendree, Associate Vice President of Student Programs at Operation Smile, putting together an Operation Smile Awareness Day. As part of their efforts, the girls asked for toiletry and stuffed animal donations from the community. They brought in other scouts to advance the cause.
Lastly, they gave up a free Saturday in October for the big day. The net result: The girls raised enough money to pay for one surgery, and area troops and an anonymous donor paid for three more. They collected more than 1,100 toiletries and 660 stuffed animals. And they created more than 100 get-well cards.
“It was breathtaking," Sarah said of the community and scout support for their cause.
About 50 Scouts helped with the event. The group included Brownies Lola Mae McKenzie '28 and Taylor Stacy '28, and Senior Scout Annalee Marling '23. They listened to a speech from Alexis Sisino '20, who discussed her mission trip to Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Pamela Marling, Emerson's mother and the Scout leader, said the girls' dedication motivated and encouraged her. They stayed on top of deadlines and gave several public speaking presentations. It was clear they were focused on helping others.
“The Operation Smile Awareness Day event from the start was less about earning the award and more about spreading awareness as to how Operation Smile is changing lives, one operation at a time," Mrs. Marling said.
This is not the end of the story. While the girls are pleased with how much they raised, they want to do more. They're talking about helping in another way, by going on a mission trip of their own.
Emerson became interested in Operation Smile through her work with NA's Middle School Happy Club. Sarah became interested through the Community Service Summer Program that Assistant Director of Admissions Maria Moore '00 ran last year.
“I am beyond proud of these girls," Mrs. Moore said. “What an amazing accomplishment! I can't wait to see how they give of their time and many talents to serve others, and support Operation Smile, in the years to come."
Emerson and Sarah's efforts gained them kudos in The Virginian-Pilot's Virginia Beach Beacon.