Girl Scouts from all over Ahwatukee Foothills are coming together to make a difference in the lives of many by adding color and happiness to the walls of the Ronald McDonald House in Phoenix.

Sandra Marshall, a local artist and Girl Scout leader of a troop of 6-year-old girls, was delivering Girl Scout cookies when she was presented with an opportunity to serve. Her troop had chosen to donate cookies to the Ronald McDonald House, which provides temporary shelter for families that travel a great distance to have their kids treated at pediatric centers in Phoenix. The goal is to make it easier for families to be together while a child is undergoing serious treatment.

While she was there, Marshall started talking with the director of the house who happened to be in need of some art. He told her he had two floors in the building with plain white walls and he couldn't get any artists to donate art.

"As I was talking to the director it was just one of those things," Marshall said. "What are the odds that they need some artwork, I'm a professional artist and I've got a crew of so many kids. We thought how perfect for a kid's hospital, we'll have kids do the artwork."

Marshall came up with a plan: The girls in her troop could not enter the building to paint because they are too young but she has them painting canvases on their own that she can hang up. If she can get a few more volunteers, Marshall can put up many canvases and paint murals around them to fill the hallways with color.

Hoping to get just a little interest, Marshall sent an email out through the Ahwatukee Girl Scout website and received responses from about 100 volunteers.

"I'm having them paint what is their favorite thing in the whole world, whatever is in their heart," she said. "That would project the most positive, no matter what it is. I thought if they all painted what's in their heart it has to be a successful endeavor."

The canvases all vary in size. They'll hang the canvases and then with help from the older volunteers Marshall will paint murals of leaves and animals around the canvases.

"The best part is the girls will get to see the transformation," Marshall said. "They won't get to go in the house but we'll take lots of pictures and they'll be able to see before and after. They'll be able to say, ‘Wow, we really made a difference.' At their young age they are really able to make a difference in someone's life."

This Saturday the transformation will begin with an Ahwatukee Neighborhood Paint Out in Club West Park. The group of volunteers will be in the park starting at 7:30 a.m. They'll be painting backgrounds onto the canvases so that when the kids paint what they love the whole canvas will be covered with color. Anyone is welcome to attend but Marshall asks that you R.S.V.P. so she can make sure they have enough supplies. She can be reached at (602) 369-4555.

Some supplies were donated by Jerry's Artarama to help with the project but more donations of art supplies are welcome. Marshall hopes to have the project completed by the end of June.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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