Long-time Ahwatukee Girl Scout Shanti Oza was so moved by the work her uncle, a doctor, and nurses are doing for Georgia nursing home patients that she decided to show her admiration for everyone on the front lines during the pandemic.
The 18-year-old daughter of Jacquelyn and Nitin Oza, the Desert Vista High School senior designed stickers that identify their wearer not only as a front-line worker but a “Hero Behind the Mask.”
Shanti called her effort “an Ahwatukee Neighborhood Girl Scout service project to show our thank you to the first responders.”
A budding artist who likes to work in all media, Shanti came up with a dynamic design that echoes a Marvel hero comic book.
“First responders have always been my heroes because they are willing to answer the call without hesitation,” Shanti said. “And to do this fearlessly during a pandemic is even more compelling. Visually, I like how comic books’ stories often portray superheroes fighting villains. First responders are superheroes fighting an invisible villain, COVID-19. I find it coincidental that superheroes are usually masked.”
The stickers required some work for the 11-year-long Scout.
“It took me maybe an hour to brainstorm ideas,” she said. “I then took my idea directly to paper. I enjoy drawing so much that I usually lose any sense of time. I was even more immersed because I wanted to make sure this picture conveyed my gratitude.”
And every stroke of her pen conveyed something.
“I wanted this superhero to be masked with a surgical mask to reflect the current times and to emphasize that these warriors are still fighting for their community despite the risk,” she explained.
“They are our lifeline, so I included an electrocardiogram line from the hero’s hand upward toward the ‘pow’ bubbles that feature some of our first responders.
“I chose our patriotic colors: red, white and blue. I added yellow around the groups of heroes because of the warmth they provide in keeping us safe. The green was chosen to let them know that our Girl Scout Neighborhood is thankful.”
The work didn’t end there since she had to make a sticker.
With the help of Ambassador Girl Scout Lizzy Waypa, Shanti reduced her drawing to 3 inches so it could fit in a perfect circle. Lizzy helped brighten the colors and before long, Shanti had a vinyl patch with an adhesive backing that she began distributing to literally thousands of people.
Ahwatukee Neighborhood Girl Scouts had them printed and Jane Waypa coordinated and communicated with Print Place and 5,000 were made at PrintPlace.com.
“Ahwatukee Neighborhood Girl Scouts have asked troops to pick up as many stickers as they want to hand out,” Shanti said. “It is up to the troop level to get involved and put together a plan of attack.”
“We are hoping to hit all the local fire stations, police stations, urgent cares and hospitals in our area and then work out from Ahwatukee,” she added. “It is a simple thank you to show our appreciation in the community.”
And, of course, one of her initial inspirations for the endeavor got some too.
Her uncle, Dr. Charles Griffin, “came out of retirement to help in the fight to stop COVID-19,” she said, and administers vaccines to nursing home residents in Georgia.
“He is distributing stickers to the health care providers in these nursing homes. The reactions have been positive. Nursing home staff are impressed that Girl Scouts all the way in Arizona were sending love and gratitude across the country.”
And it’s not just those folks who appreciate the thought behind those stickers.
“The individuals who have received the stickers so far have been very appreciative and love the sticker designs,” Shanti said. “One patient saw the sticker on the nurse and took the sticker for herself.”