Three 8th-grade students at Holy Trinity School in Robinson first heard about the diocesan mission in Chimbote through their school, by participating in fundraising projects like “penny wars” and hearing guest speakers who had served at the mission. Intrigued by what they learned, these 13-year-old girls decided they wanted to do something more for the mission.

Clare Mulvay, Melaina Merlo and Olivia Wegrzynowicz are also Cadette Scouts in Troop 55246, so they decided to focus their Girl Scout Silver Award on a project that would benefit the mission. After watching videos about the mission on this website and consulting with the diocesan and COS staff, the “Crochet for Chimbote” project was hatched. The girls designed and executed a plan to make hundreds of crocheted beanie caps for the newborn babies at La Maternidad de Maria.

Earning the Girl Scout Silver Award is no small task. The award challenges girls to determine how to make a change for the better in the community—their own community or anywhere around the globe. It is the highest award that a Cadette (6th-, 7th- or 8th-grade student) can earn. Engaging community members to plan and execute the project is intended to teach important leadership and conflict resolution skills.

From start to finish, this project took approximately nine months and the girls estimate that they each have at least 50 hours invested. Melaina, Olivia and Clare learned how to crochet from Clare’s grandmother, Judy Gasper. Then they organized three crocheting classes which they advertised in the parish bulletin. They also set up a collection box in the back of Holy Trinity Church labeled “Crochet for Chimbote” for volunteers to drop off completed hats.

Each cap takes 30-60 minutes to complete. The girls estimate that they made about 100 of the beanies themselves, while other volunteers brought in varying amounts—sometimes up to 100! They discovered that people who crochet like to have a project to work on, and this one also provided a way for volunteers to use up their extra yarn.

Olivia, Melaina and Clare had a goal of making [collecting] 300 beanies for Chimbote and far exceeded it, bringing in 759 colorful little hats! That’s quite an expression of warmth and love for the mothers and newborns who are birthed at the Maternidad! Tucked inside each cap is a business card that reads “Hand Made with Love for You by Girl Scout Troop 55246 and Friends – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA” with the same wording on the back in Spanish.

On January 24, after months of work, the three girl scouts were ready to deliver the beanies. Gratefully accepting the donation were Chimbote Foundation Board Member Gretchen Roos, Esq., Dr. Patrick M. Joyce, Director of Stewardship for the diocese, and Suzan O’Keefe from the diocesan Missions Office. The girls packed the beanie hats into vacuum bags, ready to be distributed to pilgrims and mission team members who can transport them in their luggage during upcoming mission trips to Peru.

We would like to thank Clare’s mother, Becky Mulvay, for her assistance with the project as a troop leader, as well as the many volunteers who helped crochet the hats:

The Members of Girl Scout Troop 55246

Anna Jane Bayer
Judy Best
Patricia Coulter
Marie Dettling
Nicki Estep
Marlene Galluze
Glenda Gasper
Maria Henry
Nancy Killmer
Pat Kulak
Kallie Sheets
The ladies of the Park United Presbyterian Church in Zelienople

Clare, Olivia and Melaina present beanies they made for newborns at the La Maternidad de Maria to Chimbote Foundation Board Member, Gretchen Roos. (Photo credit: John Franko of Pittsburgh Catholic Publishing)

Spanish side of card tucked inside each cap.

Beanie hats packed into vacuum bags, ready to be distributed to pilgrims and mission team members.

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