Taking a small break from their cookie-selling season, the Girl Scouts of Troop 84 decided to try their hand at making valentines that they will soon be delivering and distributing to servicemen and women at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home.
Huddled at their craft tables, the group of 10 Scouts were busy at work Thursday night as they stamped hearts on paper and wrote messages on the valentines.
Girl Scout Mary Whaley was one of the girls in the troop busy at work perfecting her valentine creation.
“We have some paper cutouts and then we have some … ink and stamps and some really cool markers that are double-ended, so on one end it’s almost like you’re painting with it,” she said.
Whaley said she was having fun making the cards, as well as getting excited about delivering their holiday messages to the veterans.
“It’s fun because it’s cool seeing how your hard work can come out on paper and … knowing … your hard work can maybe make somebody a little happier. I think it’ll be great to see the joy on everybody’s faces when they see that we do care and we notice and see what they do for our country,” she said.
Samantha Dean, Girl Scout leader for Troop 84, said Thursday the girls are naturals when it comes to crafting.
“They love creating things. They love crafts,” Dean said. “Anytime that they can do things with their hands that creates things for somebody else, they’re all into that.”
She said that while the girls are enjoying making the valentines, they are also earning community service hours, which is one essential part to achieving what’s known as the Silver Award in the Girls Scouts.
“This (valentine-making project) goes toward the girls’ community service project to earn their Silver Award and that’s an award that they earn as cadets and that’s grades sixth through eighth. They have to earn 50 hours of community service and project work to earn their Silver Award,” Dean said. She said the girls must complete what it referred to as a “journey” and the one they are working on is about air and the sound in the air.
“Once they complete the journey then they have 50 hours that they have to complete, that includes planning, community service and actually completing the project that they choose to do,” Dean said. “They have to complete it before they finish their eighth-grade year. Once they’ve completed their eighth-grade year, then they begin high school and they can start working on their Gold Award, which is the highest award the Girl Scouts offers. It’s the equivalent to the Boy Scouts Eagle Award.”
Dean said the valentine-making project has been something the girls have really embraced and enjoyed.
“This is our first year doing this and the girls want to all go through their senior year of high school (in the Girl Scouts), so I see this as being a project that we can do every year,” she said.
Dean said she views the interaction between the Girl Scouts and veterans as an important part of Girl Scouting and that while most of the valentines will stay locally, some of their creations, as well as some Girl Scout cookies, will travel overseas to those active in service now.
Dean said she feels this project is just their way of showing respect for the veterans. She said the women veterans “show the girls that females can be in leadership positions, that they can do anything that they want to do. That’s part of Girl Scouts. It’s learning how to be a leader in your community and this helps them to see and to realize that there are many options for them as grown women to do things for their community and be in leadership roles.”
In a news release from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA at Mountain Home has invited the public to a “National Salute to Veterans.”
Open-house activities are scheduled from today through Saturday, and local celebrities, elected officials, schoolchildren and other groups have been invited to visit veterans at the medical center this week.
“Our medical center’s volunteers are an important part of our health care team and the National Salute program is a great way for people to learn more about helping the veterans we serve here at the medical center,” Charlene Ehret, medical center director said. “Visitors are often surprised at how varied our volunteer opportunities are.”
To schedule a visit to the VA Medical Center, call the Voluntary Service office at 926-1171, ext. 2486 or 2487.