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Blog: Stories and Insight

Girl Scout “Pieces of Light” Project Comforts Families

Amanda McNallyAmanda McNally, a Seneca High School senior, recently accomplished something extraordinary — the Girl Scout Gold Award.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award that Girl Scout Seniors can earn. The recipient picks an issue, investigates it, gets help, creates a plan, and takes action. She commits more than 80 hours of time and must create a project that is sustainable. A Girl Scout Gold Award recipient doesn’t just try to change the world for the better, she changes it for good by tackling issues dear to her heart while driving lasting change in her community.

(left) Amanda presents Project Pieces of Light to Medford Lakes Girl Scout Troops

Samaritan hospice families are near and dear to Amanda’s heart because of the top-notch care her great uncle received at The Samaritan Center at Voorhees. She wanted to find a way to give back, bring the community together, and support families with a loved one receiving hospice care. She also wanted to find a way for people to start important conversations about end of life and grief.  With those goals in mind, she created “Project Pieces of Light.”

“Project Pieces of Light” works to be a light in someone’s darkness.

Through her leadership skills and with generous community support, Amanda successfully accomplished her goals.  She made Samaritan 115 grief support bags and dozens of clay hearts for family caregivers. The bags and hearts certainly shine light during the darkness of grief.

(Right) Amanda delivers 115 grief support bags to The Samaritan Center at Voorhees. Pictured from left: Spiritual Support Counselor Joe Milone, Bereavement Manager Joan Ordille, Teen Volunteer Coordinator Sharon Wenner, Amanda, Inpatient Center Manager Bev Pfeffer, Social Worker Colleen Fritsch

The bags were disseminated to family members and Samaritan immediately began getting requests for more. They were decorated and filled with granola bars, water, cards, and other games to help make a family member’s time spent at Samaritan’s Inpatient Centers a little bit easier.

grief support bagsAmanda, in an Instagram post, said: “These bags [shown right] have taught me a lot and filling them was a time of reflection and love and positive vibes. There’s 115. Now that might not seem like that many, but 115 people will be touched by you and me and everyone who helped with the bags! 115 people who are in their dark hole will be shown this small piece of light, even the smallest bit is enough to help :)”

Amanda McNally with Sharon WennerThe clay hearts are unique gifts to help memorialize and honor a family’s loved one who just passed away on Samaritan’s services. Staff present the clay hearts as part of a ritual by placing the heart in the caregiver’s hand and reciting the beautiful verse that comes with each heart. [Watch video]

(left) Amanda with Teen Volunteer Coordinator Sharon Wenner

To ensure Amanda’s project continues, Seneca’s high school art class will continue to make clay hearts and the Medford Lakes Girl Scout Troops will continue to make the grief support bags.

Samaritan Teen Volunteer Coordinator Sharon Wenner adds: “Amanda is one of the most inspiring teenagers I’ve had the honor to know, a shining star! Watching her interact with her fellow teens and talk about her grief experiences, giving them permission to grieve in their own ways and time, while also providing them with helpful tools, went above and beyond expectations and emotionally moved me and her audiences. This project has created many more pieces of light that will undoubtedly spread, grow, and continue to provide light to countless others.”


Learn more about Amanda’s project:

Follow Project Pieces of Light on Instagram!

If you’re interested in volunteering for Samaritan, please contact Sharon Wenner at (856) 552-3238.