MORRISTOWN, NJ - Back in the spring, a 10-year-old Morris Township resident, by the name of Callie Danysh, wanted to show appreciation to all frontline heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. What started off as Cub Scout elective, the young lady formed Flags of Gratitude, a small, but significant project that strives to spread appreciation to those who make a great difference during these troubling times.
Since then, Callie and her family have made hundreds of flags with inspirational messages all around Morristown, Morris Township and Morris Plains for local heroes, including firemen, police officers, the Morris Minutemen, caregivers at the Morristown Medical Center and the Atlantic Rehabilitation Center and the Morris County Courthouse. Flags were also made for local businesses, restaurants and other non-profits.
And at one point, Callie and her family donated $1,000 to HelpMorrisNow through her Adopt a Hero fundraiser, making flags for others as dedications via a $30 donation. This local non-profit works to collect and donate food supplies to needy families.
Callie is a Webelos in Cub Scouts Pack 513 Den 10 Steel Rose Patrol. By January, she will be moving to the all-girls Troop 1936. And as Flags of Gratitude continues, Callie continues life and has started fifth grade at Alexander Hamilton School in Morristown. Despite restriction due to the pandemic, the Danysh family pushes forward.
“We are both very happy that Morris School District is back Monday through Friday full day until 1:00 p.m.,” said Andrea Danysh. “Everyone worked very hard to make this happen. Although it's still not quite the norm between wearing masks and social distancing, we’re at least grateful for the in-person instruction and ability for the children to once again interact with their peers. The spring months of virtual learning during the quarantine were tough.”
And as the pandemic continues to drag on, Callie, with the huge support of her family, including her mother Andrea, still wishes to give back to others. Recently, for her upcoming 11th birthday on October 3rd, Callie intends to do a special fundraiser.
“The two non-profit organizations that we chose to donate money to were St. Hubert's Animal Welfare and Good Grief,” said Andrea. “St. Hubert’s helps homeless and abused animals find a home and offers pet training. Good Grief is an organization that offers counseling and runs various programs that help children and teens cope with loss. This is especially important with so many families struggling with the loss of loved ones due to COVID.”
The set goal is to raise a total of $5,000; with $2,500 going to each non-profit. And so far, things have been going smoothly for the Danysh family and others.
“I have been working with a company called Blatant Athletics in New York that has produced shirts of Callie’s flags,” said Andrea. “The original store has a shirt for first responders, health professionals, and her kindness shirt. There is also a store for restaurants and businesses. The other two stores are for Morris School District and Mt. Arlington School District. The Original and Restaurant Store has 10 percent of the shirt profits going to St. Hubert’s and Good Grief. The Morris School District Store has 10 percent profits going to the Morris Education Foundation. The Mount Arlington School District Store has 10% profits going to the Mount Arlington PTO.”
“The Flags of Gratitude stores has made a few hundred dollars so far in fundraising profit, but I’m hoping that more people will purchase shirts or other apparel to support who these flags originally were made for. Whether it’s for our first responders, healthcare workers, restaurants, businesses, schools, etc., it’s all about showing pride for those who are represented by these shirts and being grateful for them. Raising money for various charities or organizations is just a bonus. It gives us so much pleasure to be able to help in any way.”
Recently, the Werner Animal Hospital in Morris Plains donated $500 to Callie’s fundraiser, and more intend to come as the word spreads in the county.
Anyone who wishes to donate may join Flags of Gratitude on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/flagsofgratitude, with all the links to Callie’s Flags of Gratitude t-shirt fundraisers. There is also a campaign through Givebutter on the same Facebook page to raise $500 to help contribute to the same cause.
“We are very appreciative of anyone who would be interested in contributing even a small amount since every little bit helps,” said Andrea, whose own birthday comes on September 29th, just four days before Callie. “Callie has really worked so hard to make a difference in our community. Whether she reaches her goal or not, I'm so proud of all her effort.”
As their birthdays come up, with Callie hoping to get an oculus and more Robux for her favorite video game Roblox, the Danysh family plans to enjoy a nice dinner, while continuing to make a difference in their community.
“Currently, we have four fundraisers going, but I’d most certainly like to keep Flags of Gratitude going for as long as we can,” said Andrea. “I know it will be a little tougher with school starting back up, but it's been very rewarding to be able to give back to the community even in a small way. Callie is very creative and artistic, and has enjoyed making flags for others while spreading kindness throughout our community. It's been an amazing project and definitely a bright side to have come out of this pandemic.”
For more information on Callie Danysh’s fundraiser for St. Hubert’s and Good Grief, and on Flags of Gratitude, visit her Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/flagsofgratitude.