Hampton Girl Scout group brightens the holidays through service to others

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

While many gifts are wrapped in shiny paper and bows, a group of Girl Scouts from Hampton Township thought outside the gift box and chose to spread holiday cheer through service.

Girl Scouts from Troop 50375 volunteered to organize and help with a holiday activity last week at the Pace Learning Center, a private academic school for children in kindergarten through sixth-grade in Valencia.

“The troop is a very compassionate, energetic troop, and (the girls) stayed in Scouting for the volunteer and service aspect of it,” said Peggy Karman, of Hampton, who leads the troop along with Heather Lux.

Last year, the Scouts received their Bronze Award for completing a 150-hour service project during which they planned an evening for students at the Boys & Girls Club Northern Area Branch in Millvale. The event included a meal, activities and donations for the participants.

So when Karman, a substitute teacher at Pace Learning Center, proposed a similar project for the school, “they all jumped at the opportunity,” she said.

Pace Learning Center caters to children who are experiencing difficulty in their educational setting and draws students from Avonworth, Armstrong, Butler, South Butler, Deer Lakes, Mars Area and Seneca Valley school districts.

“The Girl Scouts have actually taken PLC on as their community service project,” said Cheryl Popatak, the school's supervisor.

The Scouts set up three stations to guide the students through decorating cookies, creating a jingle bell necklace and making snowflake picture frame ornaments and Perler-fused bead creations. Afterward, they helped Santa Claus distribute gifts to each student.

“I wanted to meet the kids,” said Rachel Karman, a sixth-grader at Hampton Middle School and Girl Scout. “I kind of wanted them to have a happy Christmas, too.”

The small Girl Scout troop, which also includes Hampton Middle School sixth-graders Casey Lux, Lehke Pendyala and Nikita Corbelli, spent one month organizing and collecting the items for the activity day.

“We just wanted to make it enjoyable for the kids,” Casey Lux said. “I love that they like the activities.”

The girls worked side by side with the students and encouraged their creativity at each craft station.

“It is just amazing to see them at their age embrace the notion of doing for others,” Karman said. “They do a great job of making other people feel special for all the right reasons.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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