When Meghan Orlowski was 4 years old, she was hospitalized with a severe case of pneumonia. "She was very scared and very sick," remembers her mom, Karen. A cuddly stuffed animal to clutch would have helped calm Meghan's nerves. A toy or fun game would have provided a welcome distraction.
Now, six years later, Meghan and two other members of Junior Girl Scout Troop 174 in Whitehouse are helping to calm the nerves of scared and sick kids during hospital stays.
In order to earn the Junior Girl Scouts' prized Bronze Award -- the most prestigious honor for their age group -- Meghan, Tess Hamilton and Morganne Tomlinson had to do something extraordinary.
"They wanted to help children and it needed to be something that wasn't already being done in the community," said Mrs. Orlowski, who also serves as the den leader.
Creating goody bags for little ones in a scary situation was the perfect idea.
First, the girls turned to families and friends for donations and money to buy stuffed animals, art supplies, games and toys.
But they needed more help.
They went before the Honor Society at Cain Elementary School in Whitehouse to see if, just maybe, they might be willing to help. Their fellow students jumped at the chance to do something nice for others and began collecting items.
The ambitious trio of go-getters then turned to youth group leaders at First Baptist Church in Whitehouse where they worshipped. The group embraced the idea as a local mission project.
Before they knew it, donations were pouring in.
Before Mrs. Orlowski knew it, the project had taken over her guest room. She didn't mind. She was proud of the girls.
"It was about fulfilling the Girl Scout promise of helping others, improving your community and being the best you can be," she said. "I think they did all of that."
Earlier this month, Mrs. Orlowski, Meghan, Tess and Morganne loaded up the goody bags - all 148 of them - and delivered them to ETMC Tyler and Mother Frances hospitals.
Mrs. Orlowski knows the bags of joy will be put to good use.
"They will put a smile on kids' faces."
Meghan, Tess and Morganne will be getting their Bronze Awards very soon.