The outside recess area at Jockey Hollow School consisted of two beat up wooden picnic tables on asphalt with weeds growing through the cracks. It was surrounded by dead grass with no plantings. Now there are five metal tables donated by the PTO and AYSO with four new benches on the perimeter of a repaved area with a newly planted tree and shrubs.
Briana Colitore, 14, and Lydia Massaro, 13, Girl Scouts with Troop 34409, are responsible for the donated benches, paving and landscaping. They chose to spruce up the recess area of their school for their Silver Award Project.
Principal Jack Ceccolini said Jockey Hollow is benefiting from the girls' hard work.
"For us, it's very obvious," he said. "We had nothing but a couple of really broken down picnic tables out there. Now, we virtually have a park for the kids to use. They did a great job — an absolutely fantastic job. And a lot of work went into creating it."
Of the Silver project, Lydia said, "You can work on it alone or in partners."
Briana said, "It has to be at least 50 community service hours and have a long lasting effect on the community. It has to be a sustainable project."
Lydia's mother, Pat Massaro, said the teens knew they what they wanted to do for their Silver project right away and stuck to it.
There was nothing to do outside during recess, according to Briana.
Lydia said, "We decided to make it nicer and add more seating for the kids."
Lydia and Briana needed to raise money to buy the benches they donated to Jockey Hollow School, so they sold car wash tickets from Russell Speeders in Shelton in front of People's United Bank and Newtown Savings Bank branches on Route 111, keeping 50% of the profits, according to Pat Massaro.
Lara Sciongay, a co-worker of Briana's mother's and a consultant with Thirty-One, hosted a Thirty-One party at the Rexford House in Monroe on May 31, selling gift items to assist with the fund-raising effort.
Massaro said about $85 from the girls' donation to their school is leftover.
The Silver Award project also benefited from donations of plants from Twombly and TLC nurseries, and from Benedict's Home & Garden, which donated the grass seed.
The Home Depot in Trumbull donated the crack sealer and squeegees. But the girls underestimated the number of buckets of crack seal they would need. Massaro said the store sold the last couple of buckets at a discount.
Financial donations include $300 from the Jockey Hollow PTO, $300 from the AYSO and a donation from Webster Bank where the Girl Scouts set up a checking account at its Route 111 branch.
Done in a Nick of Time
Lydia and Briana did the grunt work for their project in the summertime. Briana's father Filippo, who does carpentry work, helped with the paving, crack sealing, landscaping and installation of the benches.
Briana said they finished the job the day before the start of the new school year.
Once the project was complete, Lydia and Briana filled out a summary of what they did on the Girl Scouts website. They will make a presentation to their troop during a ceremony held on the night they receive their medals.
Completing the Silver project gives both Girl Scouts a sense of accomplishment
"The kids can enjoy their recess time," Lydia said. "They have places to sit where they can talk and be comfortable. This is sustainable because the benches and plants will be there for generations."