By Chelsy Woods Klein
For the Courier
Nine Girl Scouts from Powderhorn Elementary School spent a year collecting donations to help kids entering Denver’s foster care network. And when they delivered the goods recently, the Scouts also imparted a message: “There are people out there who love you.”
Those are the words of 11-year-old Skylar Lotus, a student at Powderhorn and a member of Troop 2035, which braved heavy rain and waterlogged streets on May 18 to deliver 250 care packages to the Denver Department of Human Services.
The 250 carefully packed bags were the result of a year’s worth of collecting donations and fund-raising, and each bag contained personal essentials such as a toothbrush and toothpaste. But what made these gifts so special is that each also contained a stuffed animal and coloring books — items meant to help children who have had to leave their homes feel more at ease.
Troop leader Corrina Hernandez said the idea for the donation drive came from her daughter, 11-year-old Arianna Hernandez. The Hernandezes have seen first-hand how traumatized children can be when they enter the foster care program — because they are hosting a foster child themselves.
Arianna, who refers to the little girl as her “baby sister,” realized just how important small comforts like a stuffed animal can be.
“It’s really hard for kids to have to leave (their homes) and not be able to grab anything to snuggle with,” Arianna said.
Jessica Harris, coordinator for the foster care intake program, was overwhelmed by the girls’ generosity.
“I am so thankful for the girls from Powderhorn Elementary,” Harris said. “It’s people like them that make what we do possible, and we are just so grateful.”
Harris said a small care package with some essentials — and some furry comfort — can mean the world to a child entering the system.
“Last week we had a girl brought in, and she had nothing besides the clothes on her back, which were practically falling off,” Harris said. “We were able to provide her with an intake bag that had a couple of outfits, including underwear. She later told us that she had never had anything new before, not even underwear.”
Troop 2035 received the Girl Scouts’ Bronze Award for community service — the top honor girls of their age group can achieve —at an awards dinner May 31.
But for the young Scouts, it’s not as much about winning an award as it is about connecting with and helping other kids in need.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve done, because this took a lot of hard work and planning,” Skylar said. “We went from idea to idea before we came up with this one, and it feels good to see it finally happen.”
Arianna took a moment to collect her thoughts and offered another perspective not often heard from her tender age.
“Our biggest achievement is helping these children, because these children usually don’t get to take their stuff with them when they leave, and we helped them feel a little bit better,” she said.