Three Le Mars Girl Scouts and one from Sheldon are working together on a project that will earn them Gold and Silver Awards.
Kathy Brandenburg and Melissa Feller of Le Mars and Heather De Goei are working on their Gold Award while Melissa Brandenburg is working on her Silver Award.
Their project, "Kits for Kids," will provide 700 activity kits for children at four hospitals: Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars, Northwest Iowa Health Center at Sheldon, St. Luke's Regional Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.
The Le Mars girls are members of Troop 470, with Lori Feller as their leader. De Goei's leader, Betty Riddle of Le Mars, is serving as a mentor to the girls to keep them on track with the project.
Melissa Brandenburg came up with the name of the project. For her Silver Award, she is making 400 of the 700 small bears that will go in the kits.
Kathy Brandenburg and Melissa Feller put together the plan to gather and purchase items for the kits, as well as raising money for materials.
One of their first contacts were the pediatric department head nurses and the emergency room nurse at Floyd Valley Hospital to see if they would accept the kits.
"They told us what not to put in the kit," said Kathy, "no gooey things or pencil sharpeners."
"They liked the bear idea," said Melissa Brandenburg.
The 12x12" bags will hold a coloring book, colors, markers, pencils, stickers, stencils, stamps and other items, "busy work they can have when confined to the bed or in their room at the hospital," according to the girls. A pencil case will hold the smaller items in the bag. The child will be able to take the bag home when they leave the hospital. They talked with children in the hospitals, too, to see what they would like.
Several items they have collected, such as Etch-A-Sketches and DVD players, DVDs and videos, will remain at the hospital. "They have to be able to disinfect those items," the girls said of the donations.
"Getting the courage up to get donations," was the one of the hardest things to do, according to Melissa Feller.
"After three or so, it was easy," said Kathy.
The girls contacted area businesses for money donations to aid in purchasing items for the kits. Some businesses also donated items, or were able to direct the girls to sources for items.
Talking to family and friends also provided sources for donated items, and network to reach out to others. The Le Mars Fire Department donated coloring books. Riddle's husband, who drives to the Kansas City area, stopped at the Crayola recycling center and brought back crayons for the kits. Their list of donors is long and varied.
They also watched for bargains in stores, and were able to purchase items that stretched their donated dollars.
They've worked hard to find soft, fuzzy fabric for their teddy bears. The bears are made from two pieces of fabric sewn together by machine, and then stuffed and hand-stitched.
The girls also did research on the Internet, where they found coloring pages at the Crayola site, and crayons and markers at the Roseart site.
The Feller living room has become the central headquarters for the project, filled with boxes of items waiting to be assembled into kits.
Melissa Feller and Kathy Brandenburg are now busy sewing the bags that will hold the kit items.
"With Heather in Sheldon, the girls keep in touch by e-mail," said Lori Feller.
The girls have logged their time spent in the project, one of the requirements for their award. Once they have their allotted time in the project, they will recruit others to assist them in putting the kits together.
One of their goals is to have a stockpile of supplies left over and that someone or a group will take over the project.
"That's their hope. That someone out there carries on and extends the life of the project," said Lori.
Feller also compliments the girls on the good job they did working with the money they raised and the materials they received in donations.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the project may contact the girls.
Melissa and Kathy Brandenburg are the daughters of Dan and Sue Brandenburg. Melissa Feller is the daughter of Mike and Lori Feller. Melissa Feller and Kathy Brandenburg are seniors at Le Mars Community High School and Melissa Brandenburg is a freshman.
"I'm very proud of the girls," said Lori Feller. "Melissa (Feller) and Kathy have been together since they were Daisies."