Borough Girl Scouts come together to support Relay for Life event in wake of Florida shooting

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Call them lights in the darkness.

A troop of Bergen Beach Girl Scouts spent their Saturday morning decorating luminaria bags at MCU Park in Coney Island on April 7 as part of a fund-raising effort for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event in Parkland, Fla. on April 13.

The enthusiastic second- and third-grade girls from Troop 2113 at the neighborhood’s St. Bernard Catholic Academy decorated more than 150 paper bags to encircle and light up the track at the event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman killed 17 people on Feb. 14. The borough scouts’ energy helped make the initiative a success, according to the organizer.

“They decorated the very last bag with the same attention and creativity as the first,” said Joe Gillette, a Bergen Beach who raised $1,500 for the Florida event, where he delivered the bags and participated in the relay. “They were amazing, and I was so thrilled to have them involved.”

Gillette — who will also participate in the Coney Island Relay for Life event at MCU Park in June — was inspired to attend and contribute to the Parkland event when he found out that some of the shooting victims had been involved with the Relay for Life in years past.

And when the Girl Scouts got involved, reps at MCU Park set them up in a suite overlooking the field, where they used markers to decorate the white bags —to be lit with electric candles inside at the event at the Florida track — and had a pizza party. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Coney Island) even stopped by after his nearby town hall on gun violence to talk to the young decorators.

Gillette said that even though the girls may not have understood the gravity of the Parkland shootings, he was glad that they knew they were coming together for an important cause.

“Even in speaking with them, they knew why they were there and said in a number of ways that they just wanted to do something nice to make the people in Parkland feel better,” he said. “I think that solidarity brings with it a incredible message of hope and unity, and I am so proud to have played a small role in making it happen.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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