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Girl Scouts collect donations for Sandy victims

Jessica Cuffman • Dec 1, 2012 at 6:15 AM

Members of Brownie Troop No. 354, which meets at Meadowlawn Elementary School, enthusiastically reviewed their plans Wednesday.

They're still collecting money, which they'll use to purchase backpacks and clothes for Girl Scouts in New Jersey.

They've budgeted down to the tiniest details, right down to the price of socks, underwear, pants, shirts and school supplies. And there's at least one toy for every backpack they send out, too.

They've created dozens of friendship bracelets with beads that say "GS." The bracelets will top off the packages before they're shipped out.

"It was very sad, watching all those people crying," said Alexis Ernsberger, 8, recalling the news coverage of hurricane.

"It will help them feel better about themselves," said Lauren Laser, 9, thinking of how the backpacks can make a difference.

The idea for the project sparked when Brownie Lauren Ries, 8, was watching highlights of the storm coverage on the Disney Channel.

"I just thought it was really sad, seeing the moms and dads just look at that water," she said.

When she told her mother, Tammy Ries, that she wanted to help, the group saw an opportunity for the new troop to pitch in and learn several lessons along the way.

Each girl is soliciting donations for the project, dubbed "Girl 2 Girl." It's facilitated by scout districts in Ohio and New Jersey.

In making their plans, the 20 local scout members are learning about "wants" versus "needs," and the basics of planning a budget to make sure the backpacks are filled with essentials.

They'll also include the friendship bracelets, as well as individual letters to each Girl Scout and a picture of the Brownie who assembled the package.

While the local scouts can't buy the East Coast girls new houses or cars — they said they would if they could — they're doing what they can. One troop member made magnets and sold them for $5 apiece, using the profit to help purchase the backpacks.

Ries posed a question to the girls, which seemed to hammer home the level of devastation on the East Coast: "Where does Santa go if they don't have a home?"

The collective gasp from the group could have sucked all the oxygen from the room.

But after mulling it over for a few seconds, Lauren Ries answered.

"We'd be their Santas if we gave them Barbies and stuff," she said.

To help the group in its efforts, go to any local PNC bank and donate to the Girl Scout Troop #354. For information call Ries at 419-656-0240.

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