As her mother tells the story, a few years ago Khadijah Kamil, now 11 and a sixth grader at Buchser Middle School, was selling Girl Scout cookies outside of a Safeway store with her Santa Clara Troop # 60510 when some firefighters walked by.
“She felt a little strange asking them to buy cookies when they do so much for our community,” said her mom, Bhawana Kamil. “Afterwards, she and I walked over to their fire engine and gave them a couple boxes. That year, we thought perhaps we could donate some boxes to our local fire station. It grew a little bit every year since then.”
That initial act of kindness grew so much that in 2017, Khadijah raised $215, enough to buy 41 boxes of cookies—enough cookies for all 130 Santa Clara firefighters—including the Chief.
Khadijah and her mom and brother, Justice, now five, personally delivered four boxes of cookies to each of Santa Clara’s 10 fire stations.
This year, Khadijah almost doubled the money, raising $420, enough for eight boxes of cookies for each fire station. She did it by reaching out in-person and via her mom’s social media and email, inviting everybody to share in her act of kindness—family, friends, teachers, parents and members of their Muslim American Society.
“I give cookies to the firefighters because I want to tell them how much I appreciate them keeping Santa Clara safe and secure,” said Khadijah. “I got to see all of the fire stations in Santa Clara that I didn’t see before. I learned that different fire stations are designated to certain areas like Great America.”
March 23, Khadijah, Justice and their mom stopped by Fire Station # 2, 1900 Walsh Ave., with a box of each of the eight kinds of Girl Scout cookies—from Thin Mints to Tagalongs to Savanna Smiles. Firefighters Ryan Deschamps and Jason Rider and Driver Engineers Tony DiBernardo and Carlos Hernandez were waiting for them.
“It’s nice to see Khadijah continue this effort and think of us,” said Hernandez.
“We like them all—except for the gluten free,” said DiBernardo when asked what their favorite flavors are.
As a thank you, the firefighters took Khadijah and her family for a short ride on their long fire truck.
“I’ve learned that the firefighters love when people think of them. It seems like they don’t get a lot of appreciation and attention,” said Khadijah. “I think that more people should do kind actions towards firefighters.”
Bhawana Kamil said that she felt proud of Khadijah for thinking of others and practicing the act of gratitude.
“Projects like this teach her to put ideas and thoughts into action. If she has a good intention or an idea of how she can make a difference, she can put a plan together and execute it,” said the proud mom.
“These are the skills it takes to be an active, contributing citizen in one’s community. It also helps develop positive moral traits and positive values—service, generosity, gratitude, neighborliness, working hard, commitment.”
Bhawana Kamil and her husband, Najeeb Kamil, a 1996 graduate of Wilcox High School, were both born in Oakland.
“We live a privileged life in many ways, and it’s easy to get self absorbed and entitled. I hope these kinds of projects can help Khadijah stay humble and grounded, and help her practice a life of service,” said Bhawana Kamil, who is troop leader for the 33 girls in Girl Scout Troop # 60510.
By the time the cookie sale ended March 4, the girls had sold an impressive 3,737 boxes of cookies.