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Westford Girl Scout Troop organizes “Signs of Hope” project in Town Common

Westford Girl Scout Troop 85009’s Signs of Hope project asked community members to sponsor signs on which they wrote their hopes for 2021. The 90 signs are displayed around Westford Town Common until New Year’s Day, when the sponsors can come and take their signs home. From left, Sydney Brooks, 16, her sister Jordyn Brooks, 13,  Anamika Pusalkar, 15, and Rohita Krishnakumar, all of Westford.  (SUN/Julia Malakie)
Westford Girl Scout Troop 85009’s Signs of Hope project asked community members to sponsor signs on which they wrote their hopes for 2021. The 90 signs are displayed around Westford Town Common until New Year’s Day, when the sponsors can come and take their signs home. From left, Sydney Brooks, 16, her sister Jordyn Brooks, 13, Anamika Pusalkar, 15, and Rohita Krishnakumar, all of Westford. (SUN/Julia Malakie)
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WESTFORD — December is usually a busy time of year for the Westford Girl Scouts. They are involved with organizing the annual Tree Lighting ceremony and Santa visit in town, hold large gift drives, and help wrap gifts in Boston for children in need through the Christmas in the City organization.

This year, though, the troop knew early on that that wouldn’t happen. Instead, in addition to a pared-down gift drive, the girls organized a campaign to spread hope for the new year.

“We were looking for something that we could do as a Girl Scout community that still brought people together, but in a safe way,” said Westford Girl Scouts Service Unit Coordinator Katrina Munichiello, who dreamed up the idea for “Signs of Hope.”

For the project, the Girl Scouts designed a sign, bordered with fireworks reminiscent of New Years celebrations and emblazoned with “My Hope for 2021” along the top. Next, they placed signs for sale around town and online for residents to purchase, with the funds going toward the purchase of materials. (The extra funds went directly to local families in need.) Volunteers dropped off blank signs in residents’ driveways and picked them up when they had decorated their signs.

In total, the Girl Scouts placed about 90 signs on the Westford Town Common just before Christmas, although they were temporarily removed when high winds swept through town. The signs display residents’ hopes for the year ahead, including everything from shopping for Oreos without a mask to going to slumber parties to receiving a PS5 gaming console to hugging family and friends. Munichiello’s family’s sign said they hope people will put more trust in science in 2021.

“The minute we finished putting them in, we got this really light snow flurry, and I have to say I spent about 30 minutes just sitting in the common looking at the signs when they were done because it was really just far more emotional than I had anticipated,” Munichiello said. “People’s thoughts and hopes were really overwhelming, and I think it was kind of a healing moment.”

Although the Scouts were “bummed” that they couldn’t partake in their annual Christmas traditions in the same way, according to Sydney Brooks, 16, she found this project to be “unexpected,” in a good way.

“It didn’t seem like much, I mean, usually it’s these big events,” she said of the sign project. “But it really kind of made a difference.” Brooks said she appreciated that many signs showed support for a local girl recently diagnosed with cancer who is also a former Girl Scout.

Her mother, Dawn Brooks, said she had been a Girl Scout since she was a little girl and had never seen an event so “unique” and “impactful.” “Once [the Girl Scouts] got there, and they’re involved in doing something, you can just see it light up their faces. They knew that they were doing something special,” she said.

Anamika Pusalkar, 15, enjoyed finding commonalities among the signs, from desires to resume in-person classes to trips to Disney World to family health and security. “Nearly everything there is something that you also would hope for, or you have someone close to you who would be hoping for,” she said.

Rohita Krishnakumar, 15, enjoyed looking at the signs filled out by younger Girl Scouts or other children because “they had very fun hopes, which made [2021] less scary to think about,” she said. “It was just helping people be hopeful if they had time to read the signs as they’re walking by or driving by to see that there’s still hope for the next year, and that just because this year was tough doesn’t mean next year will be too.”

The signs will be on the common until Friday, and those who purchased signs are welcome to pick theirs then.

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