Hardyston Girl Scout Troop #96740 planted pink pumpkins outside the Hardyston Municipal Building entrance in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“It was great to be a part of this project because it is going to help so many women get mammograms who can’t afford them,” said Abby Codner, a fourth grader from Hardyston Middle School. “I also enjoyed writing the names of women who bravely battled cancer. It was our way of honoring them.”
Samantha Naismith, a fifth grader from Hardyston Middle School, said, “My mom fights breast cancer every day at work and taught me from a young age how important breast health is. There are too many women out there fighting breast cancer that can’t afford mammograms, so every little bit that we could donate helps.”
Councilman Stanley Kula and Hardyston school board member David Van Ginneken attended the the Oct. 9 planting ceremony along with the Scouts’ group leaders and moms. Kula told the girls how proud Hardyston was of them for doing work that was so important.
The Scouts sold pumpkins at Hardyston Day, on Facebook, and by word of mouth. They raised $1,750.
Donors had the option of purchasing a pink pumpkin for $10; on it the troop leaders and moms helped inscribed on each the name of someone the donor knew who survived breast cancer, who was currently dealing with breast cancer, or who had died from the disease. Anyone who wanted to donate to the cause could give whatever amount they wanted to.
They Scouts used wooden pumpkins so they could spike them into the ground and better display the names. They painted the pumpkins before the names were inscribed on them.
The graphics department at Sussex Technical High School made three signs welcoming everyone to the patch, which is separated into three sections: one sign said “In Memory Of,” another said “In Celebration Of,” and the third said “In Encouragement Of.”
The Scouts’ leader is Erin Ashton, and the assistant leaders are Tara Codner and Jaime Juba. Ashton said all of the girls’ mothers pitch in to make the event a success.
“They are always on hand to help and make our events run smoothly,” Ashton said.
“As a Girl Scout leader, I think it’s really important to ensure our girls are civic-minded and have awareness of the disease,” she said. “We talked to the girls about mammograms and how important they are for early detection, which can increase the chance of survival.”
The troop members are Carly Ashton, Sydney Cascone, Abby Codner, Maire Demsak, Ashley Juba, Jiselle Lauraeda, Vanessa Lentini, Samantha Naismith, Kalli Patalita, and Logan Quinn.
Once the leaders explained to the girls that not everyone can afford a mammogram, which increases their risk for late or non-detection of breast cancer, “our girls understood we needed to do something to help,” Ashton said. “We wanted to impress upon our girls that what we were doing would bring awareness to the disease and in turn would help those in need afford one.”
Ashton the troop contacted Newton Medical Center Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the hospital. The troop will go to the hospital on Oct. 23 to donate the money.
The Girl Scouts decided to make this an annual event in October with the hope that other towns will join in planting pink pumpkins too.
“My mom fights breast cancer every day at work and taught me from a young age how important breast health is. There are too many women out there fighting breast cancer that can’t afford mammograms, so every little bit that we could donate helps.” Samantha Naismith