On October 28th in East’s Community Room, Girls Who Code Club members worked alongside non-affiliated attendants to make blankets that would be donated to Edwards Cancer Center, where they would be distributed to patients battling cancer.
At East, students are provided many opportunities to take initiative and invoke change, which has resulted in a number of events and actions that have positively influenced the community. From fundraisers intended to benefit the food pantry to sporting events intended to assist those in medical need, there almost appears to be no end to the generosity demonstrated by East students and its club sponsors. After recognizing a lack of events done in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Girls Who Code took initiative by organizing a blanket making event in an effort to raise awareness for and combat breast cancer.
Senior President and Founder of Girls Who Code Gaby Viano came up with the idea to host the event. She said she attributed her inspiration for the event to many things, one of which being that she wanted her club to host an event in October that would benefit others.
“I was thinking about it, and I realized that we hadn’t really done anything thus far for Breast Cancer Awareness month, since it is October,” Viano said. “I figured that I should organize something, because I was like ‘Why hasn’t anyone done anything? I’ll do something.’”
Senior Girls Who Code Vice-President Alex Salinas said she shared this sentiment, saying that Girls Who Code wanted to host an event that was simultaneously empowering and morale boosting.
“We wanted to do something,” Salinas said. “Since our club is empowering women, we thought it was a great idea to do [this].”
Viano added that her main inspiration for this event was the mother of her friend, senior Kalli Bogard, who used to host this event when both girls were in elementary school.
“She’s a two-time breast cancer survivor,” Viano said. “I contacted [her], and she gave me people’s information, and we basically planned the whole thing.”
Viano said that another inspiration for this event was Hailey Carlson, a senior that passed last year from a rare type of bone cancer.
Carlson passed in March of last year.
“I think it encourages people to realize that they can have an outreach on cancer patients, especially after last year,” Viano said. “I think that it can help them realize that something small, like a $12 blanket, can really go a long way.”
Upon entry, students were told to get into groups of three or four. Once they were separated, they were instructed to choose one blanket that was a solid color, and one that had a pattern. They were then instructed to place one blanket on top of the other, and cut strips that were to be tied.
Sophomore Madelyn Abella said that she was initially intimidated by the project but got the hang of it eventually.
“I was scared that it was going to be really hard at first, but it’s fun,” Abella said. “And it’s a fun bonding thing, and it helps get out to more people.”
Senior Aubrey Coulman also spoke to her positive experience at the event, saying that it was going great and that she was happy that she was a part of it.
“We’re making some great progress, everyone’s having a great time, and overall, I think we’re all having fun,” Coulman said.
Coulman added that she thinks that making these blankets will have a positive impact on the community, saying that she believes that receiving a blanket from a stranger will do something very special for the patients.
“You’re taking time out of your day to make something for someone that [you’re] probably never going to meet,” Coulman said. “Maybe it’ll make their day, make them feel better, make them feel special, like they’re actually receiving something from someone they don’t even know.”
Freshman James Kramer expressed the same idea about the positive impact that receiving a gift from someone they don’t know will have on the patients.
“I feel like it’ll … make the patients with cancer feel like they’re getting supported,” Kramer said.
Senior Noah Zukauskas said that he came to the event to be a part of something that would brighten the spirits of people with breast cancer.
“I hope that it’ll bring just a little bit of warmth and joy to the people who are suffering from breast cancer,” Zukauskas said. “It’s a terrible thing, and hopefully they can get a little bit of happiness out of this.”
The event had a large turn out, partially due to the collaborative advertising efforts of multiple clubs and activities at East. The event was advertised through social media by Student Council, Wolfpack, and the National Honor Society. Salinas commented on this effort, saying that she believes that it reflects positively on our school.
“I think this helps us show that we’re more of a community because we’re all helping each other out, and doing something for a great cause, which I think we need to do more of,” Salinas said.
Troi Howell is a Co-News Editor for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl