Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Girl Scouts Birthday celebrated with giving

by LISA SHADE For the Gazette on April 14, 2014 10:50 AM

Young or old, every birthday marks another year of growth, knowledge and accomplishments. The same is true for Girl Scouts, which celebrated 102 years of helping build girls of courage, confidence and character on March 12.

Girl Scout Birthday commemorates the day in 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low officially registered the organization’s first troop in Savannah, Ga. Girls celebrate this annual Girl Scout holiday in a variety of ways, including birthday party staples such as cake, ice cream, games and songs.

This year, 10 troops from Indiana decided to skip the cake and celebrate Girl Scout Birthday by renewing the promise they made to help others.

[PHOTO: Girl scouts from Indiana donated more than 50 bags of clothing to Katie’s Closet to celebrate Girl Scout Week. Pictured are, front row, Lexi Michele, left, and Sydney Wells. Back row, from left: Maggie Conjelko, Arianna Goodyear and Ann Beatty. (Submitted photo)]

The Girl Scouts — ranging from kindergartners through 12th-graders — collected clothing for infants, kids and adults to donate to Katie’s Closet, a community outreach ministry of Zion Lutheran Church that provides clothing to people in need.

Sue Dickson, a former troop leader and a Girl Scout volunteer for more than 13 years, said the girls chose Katie’s Closet because the clothing is distributed to families free of charge.

Girls collected items during Girl Scout Week — the weeklong observance of Girl Scout Birthday — and gathered more than 50 bags of donations.

“In donating so generously to others, our Girl Scouts may unknowingly be helping a neighbor, friend or even a sister Girl Scout,” Dickson said.

Dickson — who also volunteers at Katie’s Closet — said the girls’ work will have impact for many families in the region.

Because the girls collected so many children-sized clothes, the volunteers at Katie’s Closet will use many of the donated items for the annual Back to School Bash in August — an event that served more than 600 children last year, outfitting them with free clothes, new backpacks and school supplies.

Girl Scout service projects like this one not only benefit the community, but the girls as well.

This experience gives girls the confidence and the tools to help them become the citizens who will make a difference in the world.

Dickson notes the important lessons this project taught the Girl Scouts.

“Girls learned that people have different needs from their own, and they discovered how they can help them,” she explained. “They also were reminded that because they grew out of something or don’t want it anymore, there are better things to do than just throwing it away.”

Research shows the experiences girls have helping others through Girl Scouts makes them more likely to be philanthropists as adults.

According to a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, women who were once Scouts are more likely than non-alumnae to volunteer; donate money, goods or services; and contribute to charities on a regular basis.

But Girl Scouts don’t wait for birthdays to make a difference locally.

They keep the promise they make as Scouts all year long, taking action to make the world a better place, one project at a time.

The Girl Scout promise:

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God and my country,

To help people at all times,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

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