The Children's Institute Blog

Girl Scout Cookie Donations Deliver Joy and Strength

Posted: Jul 19, 2017 by The Children's Institute

Nearly 500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies donated recently to The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh have a story behind them.

Ethan Milliron, seven weeks before his wedding, was given mere months to live when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer.

"We made it way further and that was a wonderful thing," said Suzanne Ruggieri, his wife, who later remarried. "He was told he'd never have children. Emily was a surprise and a blessing."

Though Ethan did not live to see his daughter become a Girl Scout, the organization figured large into the family's story: during chemo treatments, Ethan would eat so many Girl Scout cookies for strength, he'd go through boxes and have nowhere in the hospital to find them.

Emily Milliron Ruggieri was six when her mother told her the story of the cookies.

"I couldn't comprehend that they'd run out of cookies," Emily, who turns 10 in August, said. "I said, 'Why can't you buy more?'"

Then came the idea: donating cookies in her father's memory to local hospitals and organizations so children in care would never run low on the supply. During her first year, she planned to raise funds to buy and donate 200 boxes. The final tally? 3,400 - with donations from all 50 states and 22 foreign countries. This year, she topped 7,200 boxes, bringing the four-year total to 22,000 boxes.

"You can tell it means something to her," Suzanne said. "We know what it's like to be in the hospital. We know what it's like to lose someone. There are people out there like us."

There are, indeed, others. The operation - known by the social media hashtag #GSCOOKIES4CHP - is hardly just about Emily now. She has girls all over Southwestern Pennsylvania chipping in time and funds. This year's donations went to The Children's Institute, The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the Ronald McDonald House, The Children's Home and Lemieux Family Center, and Zachary's Mission, which donates backpacks full of supplies to families in treatment.

"Emily's mission is truly inspiring," said Carly LaScola, Annual Giving and Community Outreach Coordinator at The Children's Institute. "To think of how many lives she has touched with her cookie donations is unbelievable. I was so happy our families were chosen to receive cookies this year!"

"When I give away the cookies, I imagine what the parents' faces will be like when their kids get the cookies, the Girl Scout cookies," Emily said. "I just love seeing the smiles on the kids' faces. I love knowing I've done a good job and helped lots of people."

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