A local Girl Scout recently stitched together a personal way to show appreciation to men and women who protect Rio Rancho: Quilts donated to the fire and police departments.
Samantha Foist, 14, spent 90 hours on the project to earn her Girl Scout Silver Award, an honor that requires 50 hours of work.
Samantha was researching a topic for her project when she learned that many law enforcement officers leave the job because they don’t feel appreciated.
“So I thought I should do something to help them feel welcome, since they protect us,” she said.
She decided to give the same token of appreciation to firefighters.
With her work, Samantha hoped to inspire other young people to strive for goals, get out of their comfort zones, serve the community and reach out to firefighters and police officers.
“I wanted everybody to realize how much they do for us,” she said.
A student with the online Pecos Connections Academy, she drew out the quilt designs in advance to make sure each represented her message.
The Rio Rancho Fire Rescue Department’s quilt is red, black, white and gray, with Dalmatian spots in the corners of each square. For Rio Rancho Police Department, she created a red, white, blue and black quilt with a German shepherd in the center of each square.
“I had never made (a quilt) before and I wanted to challenge myself and I thought that would be a good example of what I was trying to accomplish,” Samantha said.
Throughout the next four months, she sewed whenever she could, even taking the unfinished quilts on cross-country trips. Samantha said making the quilts was harder than she expected.
“I had to put a lot more effort into it to make sure it looked good,” she said.
Samantha also created posters with a thank-you message to the law enforcement officers and firefighters of the nation to go with the quilts.
Her project advisor, Beth Rohne, helped her contact the police and fire departments to arrange the quilt presentations. Samantha said she was still nervous to call the departments, but when she worked up the courage, the police and firefighters were supportive.
In late August, Samantha, accompanied by her mother, Kristi Foist, presented the quilts and thank-you posters at both departments.
“They were very welcoming,” Kristi said.
She said multiple people took time out of their days to attend the presentation at each place.
“Thank you so much Samantha; we’re honored!” Rio Rancho Police wrote on the department Facebook page.
Samantha has submitted her final report on the project and expects to receive it back before the end of the month. In October or November, she expects recent Silver Award winners to receive the award at a ceremony.
“I’m proud of her that at 14, she was able to take on a project like that and plan it out and see it through to the end,” Kristi said.
Next, Samantha’s planning to move toward her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement within the organization and a longer process.