Girls Scouts’ project is helping the homeless

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

Members of the Little Falls Girl Scout Troop 652 have been diligently working since September 2012 to do what they can for the homeless. This project, when completed, will possibly earn each of the seven girls their Bronze Award.

“Help the Homeless” began when a speaker at the girls’ school spoke of his life, of his adoption and the people who raised him. The girls felt so sorry for him, they decided they needed to help.

Members of Little Falls Girl Scout Troop 652 are working toward their Bronze Award by helping collect items for the homeless. They are front row (from left): Abby Thesing, Angela Wright and Ava Filippi. Back row: Kylie Pohlman, Madelyn VanRisseghem, Meredith Gerads and Olivia VanRisseghem.

Members of Little Falls Girl Scout Troop 652 are working toward their Bronze Award by helping collect items for the homeless. They are front row (from left): Abby Thesing, Angela Wright and Ava Filippi. Back row: Kylie Pohlman, Madelyn VanRisseghem, Meredith Gerads and Olivia VanRisseghem.

At a meeting in September 2012, each of the Girl Scouts brought ideas for helping others. Those ideas included making blankets for soldiers and new mothers, fixing up the Flensburg bleachers, having a toy and book drive to raise money for children and many more.

After several votes, they all agreed on a project to help the homeless.

“We met to discuss our plans, but no one knew about local homeless shelters,” said Kylie Pohlman.

Angela Wright said the troop learned the closest one was in St. Cloud.

“We toured the Salvation Army homeless shelter in St. Cloud around Thanksgiving and learned what they needed,” said Ava Filippi.

While there, Madelyn VanRisseghem said they discovered the need for toiletries was big. There was not much for games in the game room and the classrooms for both adults and children needed supplies.

“I also saw that the kids needed coats and the babies needed diapers,” said Olivia VanRisseghem.

Scout leader Tammy Filippi said she heard the girls say that the people in the shelter did not look homeless. So that brought up discussion on who is a homeless person. The Scouts learned families, soldiers and even people with jobs can be homeless.

Scout leader Sarah VanRisseghem said that the Scouts are not just soliciting items for the homeless, but are raising awareness of who is a homeless person.

At their next meeting, the Girl Scouts made a list of what they felt was needed at the shelter.

“We decided to make posters to help raise awareness and to give the community information about our project,” said Abby Thesing. “We also decorated boxes where people could donate gently-used clothing, toys and books and toiletries.”

The boxes are currently located  in Little Falls at the Tri-Parishes of St. Mary’s, Our Lady of Lourdes and Belle Prairie, Mary of Lourdes Middle School, Mary of Lourdes Elementary School, Coborn’s Super Store and Grace Covenant Church. Each box lists the needed items.

To help the community become more aware of homelessness, the girls spent time talking with others.

“We spoke to our religious education classes and passed out information to other students,” said Meredith Gerads.

“We spoke to our church congregations and had the information added to the church bulletins. We also taped a skit we wrote and showed it to other students,” said Wright.

Troop 652 will also be donating part of its cookie sale profits to the project.

The Girl Scout Bronze Award is the highest award a Junior Scout can earn. Working toward this award demonstrates a commitment to helping others, improving the community and the world and becoming the best she can be.

When completed, the seven Girl Scouts will submit their project to the Girls Scout Regional Office in Bemidji to receive the Bronze Award created for fourth and fifth grade scouts.. The criteria for the award includes spending 20 or more hours each on the project.

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