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Chappaqua's Julia Desmarais Helps Blythedale in Valhalla

Julia Desmarais launched a clothing drive to assist Blythedale Children's Hospital as part of her effort to receive a Gold Award from Girl Scouts.
Julia Desmarais launched a clothing drive to assist Blythedale Children's Hospital as part of her effort to receive a Gold Award from Girl Scouts. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Blythedale Children's Hospital

VALHALLA, N.Y.-- To earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, Chappaqua resident Julia Desmarais knew Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla's was the place to help.

Desmarais, who is going into her senior year at Horace Greeley High School, launched a clothing drive to provide clothes for the kids at Blythedale, who often don't have enough clothes that fit. 

Blythedale's closet was also disorganized, so Desmarais worked to clean and organize it to make it easier for nurses to provide clothes for kids.

Desmarais got a deal from the Container Store in White Plains to helped provide bins to discard and accept clothing, and began holding various drives for t-shirts, socks and shoes.

The drive was part of Desmarais' onging relationship with Blythedale. Desmarais regularly volunteers at the hospital.

"I love it here," Desmarais said. "It is such a happy place. They do such amazing work. The people, the children, the workers, it is such a happy place."

Blythedale came to the Girl Scouts with the request for help, and Desmarais got 120 Girl Scouts to help with the project. 

Lena Cavanna, director of community and media relations for Blythedale, said Desmarais was always happy to lend a hand.

Cavana said one patient needed shoes and additional clothing and was too embarrassed to attend school. She called Desmarais and the next day she came with shoes, pants and shirts for the patient.

"Whenever we had a need or request, I would e-mail or call and she would fill the need," Desmarais said.

Desmarais has been a Girl Scout since she was five years old. She will present her application for a Gold Award in September. 

"Girl Scouts is a really great community," Desmarais said. "I've met a lot of people and become close friends with them. They give you so many opportunities to give back."

Cavanna said it is refreshing to meet someone like Desmarais who cares about giving back.

"You hear so many negative things about teenagers," Cavanna said. "It's great to see a young lady like Julia who is thinking of others. At that age, it's all about the self. It speaks volumes for the kids involved in scouting."

Cavanna said it means a lot to the children at Blythedale to know people want to help them.

"It's a win-win situation on both ends," Cavanna said. "It's rewarding for me to see it."

The hospital is always in need of blankets, onesies and socks, Cavanna said. 

"Our goal is to make everyone feel welcome," Cavanna said.

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