Between the National Honor Society, student council, robotics team, yearbook duties, band, sports and other clubs, Kasandra Phillips will begin her senior year at Hampton Bays High School on Monday with a fully loaded resume.The 17-year-old Hampton Bays native expects to soon add another accolade to her long list of accomplishments—she estimates that her next achievement, which has been in the making for 13 years, could be reached by early fall.
“A lot of people just do it for their resume, and I’m just not the type of person that’s like that. I don’t know, I just kind of do it because I enjoy doing it,” Kasandra said, explaining why she is going for her Gold Award, the highest honor awarded by the Girl Scouts.
“I guess it’s just how I am,” she continued, “I just like to help out everyone.”
For her final project, which must be something that benefits others and without being a one-time good deed, Kasandra is penning a cookbook that will be distributed to the less fortunate who patronize the food pantry at the Church of St. Rosalie on East Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays, her family’s home parish. Once it is completed, the cookbook, titled “Creative Cooking From The Pantry,” will be given away for free to those in need and to the general public in exchange for a dozen donated food items that will be used to replenish the pantry’s food supply, according to Kasandra.
The cookbook, which will be written in both English and Spanish, will contain about 100 recipes and be made available to the church in the form of a PDF so officials there can print out new copies in the future, Kasandra said. A smaller, pocket-sized edition will also be available.
“The reason I did it was because a lot of people came into the food pantry and they just threw out the food because they had no idea how to cook with it,” said Kasandra, who is a member of Troop 1802 of Service Unit 68 in Hampton Bays. “So, it’s a really good idea because it reaches a wide variety of people.”
To help supply the pantry, Kasandra has held two food drives at the King Kullen off Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays, just across from the church, where she spent her Wednesday afternoons this past summer volunteering.
Her Gold Award project has a special significance as Kasandra practically grew up inside the church, according to her mother, Jennifer Phillips, who has been volunteering at the church for 20 years. Kasandra even had her Sweet 16 party at the church.
“For me, it comes full circle—for her to be growing up with all this,” Ms. Phillips said. “Then to complete a project of this type for the community. It’s something they want and it’s something that the food pantry people don’t even know they want, but they will. They will.”
To finance the book, which will cost around $800 to have them printed and bound, Kasandra hosted a spa night, held a garage sale and earned grants from Southampton Town and the U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association. The remaining money went to the pantry.
Another one of Kasandra’s many charitable activities is working with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the civilian fundraising arm of the military branch. Her father, John Phillips, retired recently from the Coast Guard after a combined 31 years of active and reserve duty.
“It’s a really cool experience for me and my dad,” Kasandra said.
“It’s fun,” Mr. Phillips added. “It’s another nice thing.”
Last week, Kasandra received, perhaps, her highest honor to date, a Congressional Proclamation of Outstanding Leadership and Service from U.S. Representative Tim Bishop of Southampton for another charitable project she organized this summer. Kasandra orchestrated the construction of a float through Kids Stock the House, a local charity that facilitates fundraisers and service projects run by kids to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island.
Kasandra was introduced to Kids Stock the House by the group’s founder, Donna Christina Oliverio, who helped prepare Kasandra for her college entrance exams last year. Ms. Oliverio described Kasandra as a “CEO” for the way she had her hands involved in every aspect of the project.
“These kids can oftentimes do things that we cannot,” Ms. Oliverio said. “She recruited some talented youth singers [for the float] and we think that made compassion come to life.”
Between her mother’s work through the Catholic church, her father’s efforts in the Coast Guard reserves and her older sister Brittany’s volunteer efforts—which include events aimed at ending human trafficking in Asia—Kasandra comes from an extensive charitable pedigree.
Her mother explained that philanthropy is something the family has always prioritized.
“When I look back at our years with our family, we’re always helping, always thinking ‘How can we help somebody?’” Ms. Phillips said.