Southwest Greensburg girl works to get 5,000 boxes of cookies donated
Most nights, Emily Milliron Ruggieri slides a wooden dining room chair into a corner of her parents' living room with a crayon in her hand.
“Emily, you just got Maine,” said the 7-year-old's mother, Suzanne Milliron Ruggieri of Southwest Greensburg, after checking her email.
“Yes!,” the girl replied.
And the excited response wasn't just because she loves to color.
Emily is tracking the fast-moving progress of her bid to have 5,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies donated to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh by mid-February in honor of her late father who underwent cancer treatment there.
Colorful maps of the United States and the world tacked up in her home serve as a visual reminder of her momentum.
Emily's story netted her and her Girl Scout Brownie Troop 26683 donations amounting to 4,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies from across the globe last year, blowing away her goal of 1,320.
“It's a big deal to show something so small can turn into something good,” said Milliron Ruggieri.
The generosity has spanned the world again — as of earlier this week, she had gotten donations amounting to more than 2,100 boxes from 21 countries and all of the United States.
Emily said it makes her “excited and happy” to see the donations rolling in.
Her troop is collecting donations toward the same goal.
“I thought it was amazing that I got all those boxes,” said the second-grader at Hutchinson Elementary. “(I want to) make the sick kids at Children's Hospital happy and to give them a treat that they can still eat while they're sick.”
Emily's birth father, Ethan Milliron, had battled cancer in his teens and underwent treatment at Children's Hospital throughout his life. He and Suzanne married in 2006 and later welcomed Emily. Milliron died in 2009 at 24.
The donated Girl Scout cookies will be used to stock the hospital's kitchen pantries to serve as a treat for families with patients there.
While Emily selects crayons — with help from brother Gabriel Ethan, 4 — and affixes stars to a chart tracking how many boxes are donated in each state, her parents are feverishly checking the mailbox and emails on their cell phones.
“As soon as you stand up from the table, something is beeping,” Milliron Ruggieri said. “This shows that the speed of the Internet can be a good thing.”
A video debuting this year's initiative and progress have been shared around the world on Facebook, said John Ruggieri.
“It's the good part about social media,” he said, adding that donors receive personalized messages from the family. “We want people to feel they participated in something unique.” The far-reaching progress is continually changing, but donations from new countries are providing Emily with a geography lesson in addition to one in philanthropy.
“We want her to ... see that it's not just a matter of collecting cookies,” Milliron Ruggieri said. “She's actually making a difference.”
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.