If there’s ever been a question as to what Girl Scouts do with the proceeds from cookie sales, Troop 36713 in Bethel Park leaves no doubt its funds go toward good causes.

Charlotte Fagan and Brooke Studeny

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Charlotte Fagan, left, and Brooke Studeny look at an animatronic cat at Country Meadows in South Fayette.

The Brownie-level Scouts, ages 8 and 9, used their cookie money to purchase a pair of companion pets for residents of Connections Memory Support Services at Country Meadows of South Hills.

The puppy and kitten arrived with a 21st-century twist: Like other pets, they respond to voice and touch. Unlike others, they happen to be robots.

“We decided we wanted to give something back to the community,” said troop leader Brooke Studeny.

Through her work as a hospice nurse, Studeny has seen such animatronic animals help bring comfort to patients, and she and the Scouts were happy to share the experience at Country Meadows.

In turn, the folks at the South Fayette Township retirement community were happy to welcome the girls.

“You’re not going to believe what I’m going to tell you,” Maureen Sirianni, Connections memory support manager, told the visitors about the residents. “Did you know that they’re kids? They just have older bodies. Think about it. They love to laugh. They love jokes. They love having friends.”

Reenie O'Donnell

Reenie O'Donnell reads "The Unforgettable Adventures of Grandma's Cape" to visiting Girl Scouts from Troop 36173 in Bethel Park.

And from all appearances, they love having new pets, even if they’re not quite real.

“The animals are so cute,” Norma Colucci said after having the opportunity to hold one.

And she expressed a similar sentiment about the Brownies.

“They’re so happy and not bashful at all,” Colucci said. “They’re sweet.”

The girls listened intently as resident Reenie O’Donnell read a special book published by Country Meadows, “The Unforgettable Adventures of Grandma’s Cape,” which serves as a young person’s guide to understanding conditions that cause memory loss.

“Having a tool like the ‘Grandma’s Cape’ book helps families talk to children, and the conversation begins before they may need a retirement community,” said Sirianni, referring to aging family members. “It’s nice to be able to recognize there are challenges and yet still find a way to, at the end of the day, have love.”

Maureen Sirianni and Jean Coll

Maureen Sirianni and Jean Coll

The book, which is available from Country Meadows, has an accompanying activity manual that includes a recipe for “Grandma’s Superhero Cookies.” And youngsters are encouraged to try baking them with their own grandmothers or perhaps great-grandmothers.

Sirianni encouraged the youngsters to give something else a try.

“The next time you’re with your grandparents, I want you to ask them to tell you a story about what it was like when they were your age,” she said. “Tell them the things that you like to do now, and see if they did those things, too. You will be surprised at all the wonderful things they tell you.”

Resident Jean Coll surprised the visitors when they learned of her pursuing the hobby of water skiing.

“And I still am,” she added.

For more information, visit www.countrymeadows.com/services/memory-support.

Tom Burkard and Jane Evans

Tom Burkard and Jane Evans enjoy a new "pet."

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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