WAXHAW – Three Girl Scouts from Troop 1099 in Waxhaw recently earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award for their time spent volunteering over the past year.
Alyssa Tauro, Kayley Schmitt and Sarah Motteler received a medal along with a personalized certificate of achievement and letter signed by President Donald Trump.
“It felt really nice to be recognized for the community service, but to me, it’s not about being recognized,” Kayley said. “It’s about doing your part to help the community.”
The President’s Volunteer Service Award, founded in 2003, honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in the U.S. and inspires those around them to take action.
Alyssa and Kayley, both seniors at Marvin Ridge High School, won the bronze award for more than 100 hours of service. Alyssa volunteered with Red Cross Blood Drive, Habitat for Humanity and Rea View Elementary School in Waxhaw.
As a member of Marvin Ridge student council, Kayley helped teachers and staff with projects. She’s also a youth mentor with The Sandbox and volunteered at the nonprofit’s “An Evening of Believing Prom,” in addition to making blankets for the homeless. The Sandbox helps families of children diagnosed with cancer, life-altering, rare or terminal illnesses.
Sarah, a senior at the North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics in Durham, won the gold award for more than 250 hours of service. She volunteered at the North Carolina Museum of Science’s Bug Fest, organized a book drive during quarantine to collect more than 1,500 books for Book Harvest in Durham, sent out military care packages and letters and delivered gifts and handmade cards to Bright Blessings in Matthews. The nonprofit celebrates birthdays of homeless and impoverished children.
In addition to receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award, Alyssa and Sarah have also earned Girls Scout Gold Awards for their projects in the community. Kayley’s project, “Second Chance Comfort-Fast Fashion for Feline & Friends,” has been approved and she is currently working on it.
Kayley hopes to educate people about fast fashion and its environmental impact by collecting used clothing that would otherwise go to a landfill. She will then repurpose the fabric into small blankets and toys for foster pets.
“I love animals. I have three cats and a dog,” Kayley said. “I’m very happy and excited to be finding a solution to two of these issues that I’m very passionate about.”
Through “Technology for Seniors,” Alyssa helped teach older adults about current apps, websites and social media platforms to stay connected with friends and family.
Alyssa visited Waltonwood Providence, a senior living community in Charlotte, and met with residents to help answer individual technology questions and needs. She also created a website to host her presentations and make them easily accessible to older adults and care facilities worldwide.
Her project was completed just before the pandemic and provided necessary resources to those in assisted living and independent living.
Sarah’s project, “#FindSerenityInArt,” focused on the benefits of art on mental health. Sarah planned to hold events at school for students to create paintings while promoting healthy habits to reduce stress and anxiety, but she had to pivot due to the pandemic.
Instead, Sarah distributed chalk kits, canvas kits and flower pot painting kits to Waxhaw residents, along with a flyer about the positive effects that art – both creating it and viewing it – can have on anxiety and stress levels. She asked recipients to post pictures of their projects on social media with the hashtag #FindSerenityInArt so she could track her progress.
Sarah also created a website and Facebook page to share the benefits with others and sent informational flyers to schools around the country.
“The impact was larger than I could have ever dreamed it could be,” Sarah said.
All three girls helped support each other’s projects by volunteering to paint canvases, partnering with older adults who needed assistance at technology events and offering to be a collection point for clothing drives.