Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

girls-bead_Aug11Five girls from St. Bridget School in Manchester pose with Linda S. Schwartz, commissioner of the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs. They are, from left, seventh graders Caitlin O’Dwyer, Nicole Robitaille and Liz Tucker; Commissioner Schwartz; sixth grader Gina Savino and seventh grader Samantha Barisano. (Photo submitted)

MANCHESTER – Some St. Bridget School students raised more than $1,000 recently to help Connecticut’s veterans by selling beads that fit popular bracelets.

St. Bridget seventh graders Selina Alexander, Samantha Barisano, Caitlin O’Dwyer, Nicole Robitaille and Liz Tucker and sixth grader Gina Savino delivered a check for more than $1,000 to Linda S. Schwartz, commissioner of the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs, on June 3.

The money was earmarked for Stand Down 2011, an event geared toward making sure that homeless and needy veterans have access to basic goods and services. Stand Down 2011 will take place from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 9 at 287 West St., Rocky Hill.

The six girls have been in the same Girl Scout Cadets group throughout their years at St. Bridget. They originally planned the fund-raising activity for their Girl Scout Silver Award, and went to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for approval.

As it turned out, the fund-raiser could not be sanctioned by the Girl Scouts, said Lynnmarie Barisano, Samantha’s mother, who also chairs the school’s board.

Ms. Barisano said that Girl Scouts may neither raise money for other groups nor sell commercially made products not created by Girl Scouts.

"While discouraged that this could not be a Girl Scout activity, the girls had already talked to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and did not want to back out," said Ms. Barisano. They then asked their principal, Mary Alice Nadaskay, if they could continue the activity as a group of friends at the school.

"Mrs. Nadaskay stepped up and said, ‘Social justice is important to us here,’" Ms. Barisano said, so the effort went forward.

The girls and Ms. Barisano worked with a local jewelry store owner to get a design. The chosen bead fits such popular charm bracelets as Pandora, Chamilia, Biagi and Troll, and bears the slogan "Thank a Vet, CT Cares" on the silver core on the side of the bead.

Each red, white and blue glass bead was hand-painted and sold for $25.

During their visit to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Rocky Hill, Ms. Schwartz presented award pins and coins to the girls.

Ms. Barisano said that Stand Down 2010 helped 1,200 needy and homeless vets by providing a variety of basic goods and such services as dental and health screenings, haircuts and resumé-writing assistance.

Information about Stand Down 2011 is available at