PAWLET, Vt. (NEWS10) — Olivia Coolidge, 12, is a Girl Scout Cadette starting her Silver Award project this spring. Her Silver Award project is making a mural featuring Girl Scouts in their various uniforms from different time periods. 

But, this holiday season she decided to do a fundraiser to raise money for her Award Project.

And how did she choose to raise the money? Olivia is making holiday stockings, filling them with gift items and giving them to residents at a local nursing home who have no family to visit them.

Olivia first learned about the loneliness of nursing home residents after spending weeks visiting her grandmother at various nursing homes when she was younger.

“My grandmother wasn’t doing well and over two years she would have to go in-and-out of various nursing homes for rehabilitation,” Olivia said. “My mom would take me when she visited and many people would come up to me and hold my hand or hug me.

One day, we were visiting and a nurse mentioned that they were doing a collection for items they needed to give to residents who had no one. My mom ‘adopted an elderly person’ and we bought him some socks, lotion and PJs.  After that, it was something we just did each holiday, even after my grandmother died in 2016.”

For a $10 donation, Olivia offered people in the community a chance to bring a smile to a lonely and forgotten senior on Christmas Day. Of that donation, $2-$3 went toward Oliva’s Silver Award project expenses (art supplies, graphic design, canvas, framing, etc.).

She hoped to secure donations for 25 stockings by Dec. 15. But with the help of social media, Olivia’s fundraiser gained a lot of traction.

In one week, Olivia raised enough money to provide all 88 residents at Slate Valley for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Granville, NY a stocking.

“I wanted to give stockings to ‘Forgotten Seniors’ and when my fundraiser took off, I reached out to other nursing homes but they didn’t call me back,” Olivia said. “I told this to Slate Valley and they motivated me to donate more stockings to their other residents (meaning, those with families) because residents who have families haven’t been able to see them and are depressed. With COVID-19 and safety concerns, most residents haven’t been able to see loved ones or participate in community or facility events. I don’t want anyone to feel they are forgotten and alone.”

So, what’s next?

Olivia will begin making her graphic-photo design mural of Girl Scouts through the ages. The mural will feature text (like the Girl Scout code), various favorite cookie flavors, and badges.  It will be installed at a nursing home to help elders recall happy memories of their youth.

She is also writing up her “Forgotten Senior” stocking gift fundraiser for other girls to adopt so more seniors can be helped in 2021.  Part of this includes designing a special community badge for the girls to earn after they complete their community project.

Olivia plans to make Easter baskets for seniors and double her stocking fundraiser in 2021.

While she is still making stockings this year, the one message she wants to get out is: “Thank you to all who cared and gave a lonely elderly nursing home resident a present this Christmas.”