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Photo by Diane Cox
Members of Girl Scout Junior Troop 130 hold bags they created to donate to Riverbend Family Ministries. Back row, from left, are Gemma Yenne, Rebecca Noack, Vera Self, Iris Smith, Rachel Williams and Grace Delp. Front row, from left, are Hope Simmons, Riley Zumwalt, Rose Wilfong, Lydia Davidson, KayLee Melton and Chloe Goodbrake.
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Photo by Diane Cox
Girl Scouts from Troop 130 line up for the ceremony to receive their Bronze Award.
WOOD RIVER — Girl Scout Junior Troop 130 members gathered Sunday at Riverbend Family Ministries, a nonprofit organization in Wood River, to receive the Bronze Award, the highest award Junior Girl Scouts can achieve.
Troop leaders Jennifer Melton and Carmen Norack couldn’t be more pleased with their Girl Scouts and proud they had so many reach this level.
“We have 22 girls total in our troop; 14 are Juniors,” Melton said. “They worked the entire school year on this award and the younger Daisies and Brownies helped because it’s never too early to learn about giving back to the community.”
For Juniors to achieve the award, they had to take four steps: choose a project that could benefit their community, plan it as a troop, raise the funds for it and complete it together.
This was not the first time Riverbend Family Ministries joined Troop 130 to complete a project.
“In December 2012, Tammy came to speak with the troop to complete the steps for our ‘my faith, my promise’ pin,” Melton said. “Also during the gift of caring program through cookie sales, we voted for the cookies to go to the Riverbend Family Ministries, and it was then that the girls decided to do their Bronze Award to benefit the RFM (Riverbend Family Ministries).”
Tammy Iskarous, founder and executive director of the Riverbend Family Ministries, saw an instant connection with the Girl Scouts.
“I was asked to come speak to their troop, and it was an immediate connection with the entire group,” Iskarous said. “I’ve known the family (Melton’s) since before her daughter KayLee was born, and they’ve always had a commitment to this community.”
Troop 130 decided to help children that may be put into an emergency foster care environment without the ability to take with any belongings and personal care items. The Girl Scouts decided to make bags that can be given to those children so they could have something to call their own.
“Our therapists, volunteers and staff work with children affected by violence, poverty, or removed from their homes quickly,” Iskarous said. “Those bags will be given to those children and it will be something that will be theirs, made with love from another child, and will let them know there is hope and that someone cares.”
Fund-raising was an essential part of the project. Rules applied such as they could not “panhandle” or just ask for money; they had to provide a service or hold an event.
“We did three fund-raisers to collect the money to make the bags for Tammy to provide the kids who come to Riverbend,” Melton said. “Flamingo flocking, a night at Bread Company being a waitress, and a father/daughter dance were our fund-raisers.”
Items included toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner, and a toy or book. Items for older children were collected so they could be added to the bags as needed. Bags were created for boys and girls of all ages and decorated by the members of Troop 130, who tagged them so Riverbend would know how to distribute them.
The Junior Girl Scouts are from the fourth- and fifth-grade levels and enjoy being together as a troop.
“It feels good to do things for our community,” Rebecca Noack, 11, said. “I really liked doing the fund-raising and the activities; that was my favorite part.”
KayLee Melton, 10, said crafts and helping others is why she likes Girl Scouts.
“I plan to try to go all the way through Girl Scouts,” KayLee said. “I want to get the Silver and Gold awards, too.”
There are three levels of high awards to achieve in Girl Scouts. Juniors can reach Bronze, cadets can reach Silver and high school age can achieve the Gold Award.
Girl Scout Troop 130 created 180 bags and donated them to the Riverbend Family Ministries. For information on donations or volunteering for Riverbend Family ministries, call Tammy Iskarous at (618) 251-9790, check out their Facebook page, or visit the office at 131 E. Ferguson Ave. in Wood River.