This year's Girl Scouts O-Ten-Talla Service Unit of Signal Mountain's annual scarecrow project isn't just a tribute to the season, it's also a tribute to former service unit leaders Joselyn Willis and Marcia Stevens.
In late September, each Scout troop in the unit decorates a scarecrow to be placed in one of many prominent places around the community, where they remain until after Halloween.
Both Willis and Stevens were diagnosed with breast cancer this summer, and the Scouts decided to recognize them by pinning pink ribbons to all of the scarecrows this year.
"We're very proud of our ladies that are battling breast cancer and those who have survived," said current O-Ten-Talla service unit manager Andee Bock, adding that there are many more survivors associated with the unit but Willis and Stevens are the only women currently in treatment. "We try to stand behind our fellow Girl Scouts."
Bock said the Scouts felt the scarecrows would be a good way to show their support since they are on display throughout the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"We want the girls to know this is something they should be aware of and could possibly face in the future, whether it's them, a relative or a friend," said Bock.
Some of the older Scouts were inspired to work toward their breast cancer awareness badge, including activities such as volunteering to help with recycling for the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, she said.
"We've tried to support [Stevens and Willis] as much as we can and let them know we're cheering for them," said Bock.
She said many Scouts signed up to take turns bringing dinner to Willis while she was undergoing treatment, and one Scout's mom knitted a cap that reads "One Tough Cookie" on the front and "O-Ten-Talla" on the back for Stevens to keep her head warm between chemotherapy appointments.
"They've been a very supportive group," said Stevens, who along with Willis recently finished her chemotherapy treatment.
Bock said the Scouts plan to make the pink ribbons a permanent addition to their scarecrow tradition.