By Katie Terou

SYV Star Intern

Local Girl Scout Sarah Donahue has earned her Gold Award, the top honor in Girl Scouting, by performing more than 100 hours of service to make beds for cats and dogs at the local animal shelter.

Sarah, 17, is a senior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and has been part of Girl Scout Troop 50876 since she was in kindergarten. She has participated in many events with Girl Scouts, including trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Disneyland as well as charitable events.

 “It’s been a huge part of my life,” she said. “We’ve done so many trips, and I’ve loved every aspect of it.”

She earned her Bronze Award in elementary school by spending 20 hours making cat toys for the local Humane Society. She later earned her Silver Award after spending 50 hours knitting hats to donate.

“It’s been an adventure,” she said, and also fun.

Moving on to the Gold Award, Sarah decided to make pet beds out of new or lightly used crew-neck sweatshirts and donate them to the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society shelter in Buellton. She was inspired by a “kindness project” she had participated in during seventh grade, when she learned how to make these pet beds.

“I really enjoyed making the beds and playing with the animals that are in need of help,” she added.

As part of the project, she hosted two events for volunteers to help her stuff and sew the beds. After 117 hours, she and her 20 helpers had made 31 beds to donate. She dropped them off at the animal shelter at the end of July.

“The joy on the (Humane Society) volunteers’ faces when getting new items for the animals and watching them immediately put the beds in the cages with the animals was a very good experience,” Sarah said.

With this project, she said, she wanted to emphasize the importance of helping animals in need, an issue that is important to her.

“I think it’s important for people to realize that these animals need as much help as they can get,” she said. “Although they are being taken care of by the Humane Society, they need love and people to play with them.”

Sarah is just one of many local Girl Scouts to earn her Gold Award. It requires at least 100 hours of service and encourages girls to make a change that has a lasting impact on an issue that is important to them. It can also help Girl Scouts build community, stand out in college applications and learn valuable life skills.

To learn more about the award, visit