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Silver Awards given for hearts of gold
Spend just a little bit of time with Oak Harbor Girl Scout Troop 1445 and something will become clear quite quickly. Girls Scouts means so much more than cookies.
At the end of last month, four members of Troop 1445 completed the process necessary to receive Silver Awards, the second highest honor in Girl Scouts. In order to be eligible for the award, the girls had to each spend at least 40 hours doing community service for a chosen organization.
Fifteen-year-old Ariel Walsh chose to spend her time collecting donations for the Pregnancy Care Clinic in Oak Harbor along with Debbie Cloughessy, 15. Ariel said she had volunteered at the clinic previously and knew the women there were always in need of things.
“There are a lot of pregnant women in Oak Harbor who can’t afford basics,” Ariel said. “So I thought, why not help them out?”
Ariel, along with the other troop members, started standing outside stores like Walmart and Kmart last summer and raised money mainly for diapers and wipes.
Fifteen-year-old Hannah Salmons collected donations in order to buy hygiene supplies for homeless teens. Hannah Salmons said when she first started her project, the public seemed a little skeptical of her cause. Many people don’t realize how many homeless children there are in the city because the kids are often living under the radar. A school district count in November revealed that more than 180 students were without homes.
“I didn’t think a lot of people would donate, but they did,” Hannah Salmons said. “It was really nice. They opened up to it.”
“And a lot of people wanted more information about the projects we were doing,” Riley Thompson, 15, added. Riley spent much of her time collecting money for the Oak Harbor Senior Center.
Troop leader Libby Salmons said she is very proud of her girls. Though most scout awards she has the authority to sign off on herself, for the Silver Award, she had to submit stacks of paperwork to a Girl Scouts council in Seattle in order for the recognitions to be approved.
“The community was extremely generous,” Libby Salmons said.
The girls in Troop 1445 have been working together since they were fourth and fifth graders. In addition to their service hours, they’ve mentored younger scouts, served food to the needy on Thanksgiving, done clean up on the beaches, collected items for babies born at Whidbey General and have participated in Christmas caroling.
At their meeting on Thursday, Dec. 16, the girls put together goodie bags to go along with the holiday meals that were given out at the North Whidbey Help House for Christmas.
“Girl Scouts is about helping people,” Salmons said. “You really see how a community works. You witness it and you take away from it.”
An official Silver Award ceremony for the girls will take place in February.