Bridget Schlossberg won’t let anything — not even a worldwide pandemic — stop her from fulfilling the Scout Slogan’s charge to “Do a Good Turn Daily.”
The 11-year-old, who goes by the nickname Gidget, has been helping her best friend’s brother cope with the stresses of the pandemic in a genuinely generous way. Because helping others at all times is what Scouts do.
Gidget was a 3-year-old preschooler when she first met Ethan. She remembers begin a little apprehensive the first time he ran up to her and gave her a really big hug.
But Gidget soon learned that Ethan is special. He has Down syndrome and autism.
“I realized he just wanted to be friends, and that’s how he shows excitement,” Gidget says. “He can walk, run, swim. He loves to go on rides in the car or in the bike carrier, and he is obsessed with his DVDs.”
Before the pandemic, Ethan had the same routine every day. He’d ride in the car or bike carrier to the thrift store and pick out a book or DVD.
But when COVID-19 hit, those stores closed. No more trips in the car. No more books or DVDs.
Gidget decided something had to be done.
“I have a lot of books and movies that I have outgrown and thought I could give them to Ethan,” she says. “I decorated a box, and every day, I put a book or DVD in it and leave it near my mailbox.”
Now Ethan goes on his rides to get a book or movie at Gidget’s house.
“I figured the books would make him happy,” Gidget says, “and he could still go shopping every day, even in the lockdown.”
Gidget’s daily Good Turn is something she can do without even leaving her front yard.
“It’s important to be kind to others, even if they are different,” Gidget says. “Different isn’t bad. Different can be your superpower.”
‘We Scout on’
Brandy Schlossberg has seen firsthand her daughter’s passion for helping others, making friends and having fun. Brandy knew Gidget would feel right at home in Cub Scouts and signed her up at the earliest possible moment. In 2018, Gidget joined Pack 374, becoming one of the first female Cub Scouts in the Tidewater Council of Virginia Beach, Va.
Scouting has been a part of Brandy’s family for 16 years. Her sons, Justin (22) and Malcolm (19), started as Tigers and are both Eagle Scouts. Brandy has been a den leader, Cubmaster and troop committee member. Now she’s a den leader once again.
“I have seen the benefits of the Scouting program through my children,” she says. “They are confident, compassionate, productive citizens.”
Ethan took to Gidget right away, and they bonded like close siblings over playdates and swim parties and Mickey Mouse cartoons. Gidget helps Ethan in many small ways with everyday tasks whenever they’re together.
“But the truth is, Ethan has helped Gidget and everyone else he meets,” Brandy says. “Having Ethan in her life from such a young age exposed Gidget early on to the reality that people have many differences. No matter the differences, all anyone needs is to be accepted for who they are — to be included and to have friends.”
That kindness toward others doesn’t have to be put on hold during the pandemic, Brandy says, and Gidget is proof.
“Now more than ever, the Scouting Program is so important,” Brandy says. “Service projects make them aware of the troubles in this world and show them how their daily Good Turn can make a difference. When the world shut down, the Scouts paused, adapted, and we Scout On.”
Sharing her message of kindness
For requirement 2 of the Arrow of Light elective adventure Moviemaking, Webelos Scouts create a movie about themselves that depicts how they live the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
“Ethan’s mom, Ms. Michelle, told me how kind and helpful the box was, so I thought the story of why I made Ethan’s box would be a good topic,” Gidget says.
Brandy says the video took Gidget “many, many hours of editing. In the end, we both learned a new technology skill. And I think it turned out great. Tears in my eyes with every viewing.”
Brandy hopes that Gidget’s video will bring awareness to the challenges faced by people with autism and Down syndrome while also shining a spotlight on the character development Scouting teaches.
Gidget says she made the video to fulfill an adventure requirement — not to get coverage in a blog or get noticed by a daytime talk show. But she has been humbled by the response so far.
“Everyone who sees it usually cries,” she says. “They all say how special it is and what an amazing thing I did to help Ethan. One of my mom’s friends said, ‘You should be on Ellen,’ and ‘this should be shared around the world.’”
On that last point, I agree. We need more young people like Gidget who put others first — even amid the isolation of a pandemic. We need more everyday heroes. We need more Scouts.
“The Scout Oath means always trying to help others every day in little ways,” Gidget says. “It doesn’t have to be a big project or a big deal. You can hold the door for somebody, help carry a bag, or just smile and say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you.’”
Thanks to Alison Harrison of the Tidewater Council for the blog post idea.