A Lehighton Cadette Girl Scout is well on her way to earning a Silver Award.
Katelyn Hosler, granddaughter of Katherine and James Hosler of Franklin Township, recently presented her project, much needed wheelchair accessories, to the residents of ManorCare, an Allentown nursing home.
The Silver Award is the highest award a Cadette Girl Scout can earn and represents a girl's growing ability to identify and respond to community needs, consider possible solutions and establish networks to make them happen.
Katelyn came up with the idea to make tote bags for wheelchair patients to use while she and her troop were visiting the nursing home during holiday visits in 2007.
The energetic, compassionate and enterprising girl saw the tote bags the residents were using and thought they showed signs of wear. She decided to come up with a plan to replace them.
"They put their personal things in them, such as their change and books," she said.
Then Katelyn's efforts were sidetracked due to a serious eye injury. After spending months traveling to Wills Eye Center, Philadelphia, for treatment of an eye abscess, and nearly losing her eye, Katelyn was left with no vision in one eye. She was 11 years old when the injury happened. So now, at 13 years old, and her health finally stable, she was ready to complete her project.
"Learning to sew was no easy task with the vision gone in one eye," said Hosler, who is also the leader of Lehighton Cadette Troop 3801. "She had to learn to sew by using one eye."
Katelyn also had to find a few friends to help her. She leaned on three friends to get the project done. She first taught them all to sew, after she herself learned how to operate the sewing machine and sew a straight line.
"I knew that making 31 bags was no small task and I knew I'd need some help," she said.
After a few practice runs, the girls earnestly began making the bags.
"First we visited the nursing home to find out the measurements," said Katelyn. "Then we picked the fabric and started cutting them."
Katelyn's grandmother donated the fabric.
"They used hand scissors," said Mrs. Hosler. "I wanted them to learn how to sew using the old fashioned ways. I wasn't willing to let them use my electric scissors."
The idea of using electric scissors peaked Katelyn's interest, but by then the final results were ready for delivery.
"I designed the bags so that the ends could be tied around the chair supports," she said.
Instead of making all the bags one color, Katelyn chose a variety of colors and fabrics so that some bags were in male-friendly colors.
Earning a Silver Award requires a minimum of 40 hours planning and implementation. Katelyn's project took 70 hours to complete.
Katelyn must still receive approval of her project from the Girl Scout Award Committee. Afterward, she will be among the dozens of girls from the Girl Scouts of Pennsylvania nine-county service area to be presented their awards at a ceremony in the fall.