Cherry Hill Girl Scouts earn silver awards

Eva Fields, Ella Kang and Serena Simms  spent most of their eighth grade year working toward the Silver Award.

Left to right: Eva Fields, Ella Kang and Serena Simms — all 14 — spent most of their eighth grade year working toward the Silver Award.

To earn their Girl Scout Silver Awards, three Cherry Hill Girl Scouts worked to increase the exposure of a relatively new nonprofit in the community, MatchDog Rescue.

Throughout their year-long awareness campaign, the girls gave presentations about MatchDog Rescue, during which they taught people how to make dog toys braided from cut-up T-shirt strips. They then donated the toys to MatchDog Rescue, which the organization has sold at fundraisers.

The Silver Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Cadettes (sixth, seventh and eighth graders) each need to devote 50 hours toward the project. Eva Fields, Ella Kang and Serena Simms — all 14 — spent most of their eighth grade year working toward the Silver Award.

MatchDog Rescue rescues dogs from kill shelters in Texas and brings them to New Jersey, where volunteers foster them and find them adoptive homes. Simms volunteers with the group and convinced Kang and Fields to help the nonprofit for their joint Silver Award project.

The three girls visited younger Girl Scouts at their meetings to teach them how to make dog toys and to tell them about MatchDog Rescue. They also participated in community events like Martin Luther King, Jr., Day at Temple Beth El, where they ran a dog-toy booth and imparted their knowledge to teens and adults.

The dog toys were a make-and-take project. Anyone who braided dog toys could take one home for a pet, but they had to leave the rest for the Girl Scouts to donate to MatchDog Rescue. The nonprofit uses the funds from dog toys it sells to cover expenses related to the transportation and care of rescued dogs.

To prepare for their community events, the girls cut dozens of t-shirts into strips ahead of time, as well as prepare their presentations and create handout materials. They gave event participants flyers so that they could continue making dog toys at home and so that they could find out more about MatchDog Rescue.

The girls had planned to attend several Cherry Hill school carnivals this past spring to promote greater awareness of MatchDog Rescue, but the events were canceled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The girls had to get creative to log 50 hours each toward the project.

“This was obviously very inconvenient and upsetting, but we had to trudge through,” Kang said. “We decided to switch gears from attending large events in person to instead holding virtual FaceTimes to spread the word and get dog toys made.”

Normally, girls finish the Silver Award by the end of eighth grade. Due to the pandemic, eighth grade Girl Scouts working on the Silver Award were given until the end of December to complete their projects. Currently, the three girls are ninth graders at Cherry Hill High School East, and they are Girl Scout Seniors.

The girls donated dog toys to MatchDog Rescue in two batches: once before the pandemic and once last week. There were too many dog toys to count, but it’s estimated that they donated thousands of individual toys, which were made by the Girl Scouts themselves, as well as participants from community events and virtual FaceTime meetings.