Girl Scout power

by Renee Hunter

Three Faulkner County Girl Scouts are making their communities better places to live, one good deed at a time.

Ashley Moore, Maggie Risley and Kate Freyaldenhoven became Girl Scouts early, and when their troops dissolved due to girls dropping out, they wanted to continue. So they became Individual Girl Members of the Diamond Council. They stand alone, doing community service and earning badges, with their mothers as their leaders.

They have discovered several advantages to this arrangement.

“What we like about the IG program is that it’s more flexible,” said Shannon Rudder, Maggie’s mother.

“I choose to be by myself because I’d rather be independent and make my own choices,” Ashley said.

“You get to do things you wouldn’t have gotten to do otherwise,” Maggie echoed, adding that a closer bond with her mother is a plus.

“I like how it gets girls involved and helps them realize what they can do . . . and how they can make a change,” Kate said. “I get ideas from Girl Scout badges on a lot of arts and crafts.”

Ashley, a ninth-grader at Vilonia Junior High, earned her Bronze Award while with a troop. She has been an IGM for two years and recently completed her Silver Award.

To earn each award, girls must follow a “journey” outlined in a “journey book.” Community service is one requirement of the journey.

Ashley’s community service, which she did during Christmas last year, was collecting toys for the Salvation Army “angel trees.”

“The year before, I saw all the people left on the angel tree, and because their names weren’t taken, I knew they weren’t going to get gifts, so I made that my project,” Maggie said.

Ashley collected 107 toys, concentrating on children over 12, she explained, because the names of younger children are almost always taken. She plans to repeat the project this year.

Maggie, a seventh-grader at Bob Courtway Middle School, has only the trailblazing requirement to complete to earn her Silver Award. She and her mother planned an overnight camping and hiking weekend on the Buffalo National River in June to fulfill that. She has been an IGM for a year and a half. She enjoys sewing, so many of her projects incorporate that hobby.

“It was a Girl Scout badge that got me interested in sewing,” she said.

Maggie has made 20 lap quilts for the wheelchair-bound at Salem Place Nursing Home, as well as 22 baby bibs for Conway Cradle Care. She also participated in a “Journey to the Ballot Box” in conjunction with the exhibit of the original 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote, at the Clinton Library in October. She and four other scouts spent several weeks putting the program together, and more than 100 girls attended.

Kate, a seventh-grader at Ruth Doyle Middle School, is also in her second year as an IGM. She has only begun to think about her Silver Award. 

“I mostly like to work on community projects,” she said. “We’ve been really busy this year.”

Kate’s projects have included filling backpacks with toiletries and small articles of clothing for the clients of Bethlehem House and providing small gifts to place on the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) organization’s wall of honor for the organization’s young clients.

These projects weren’t the girls’ first.

While in a troop, Ashley helped fill 20 “birthday buckets” with cake mix, icing, candles, balloons and other party necessities for CASA clients. She has collected bathroom supplies for the women’s shelter, made lap blankets for the patients at Salem Place, sent cookies to U.S. troops overseas, donated Girl Scout cookies to Bethlehem House and helped decorate the Conway branch of Faulkner County Library for the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts.

With her troop, Kate sent 20 Christmas shoeboxes containing a small tree, ornaments and other goodies to the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. She and the troop also made blankets for the animals at the Conway Animal Shelter and donated food and other items to the shelter.

With her troop, Maggie helped raise money to buy toys for HAVEN (Help for Abuse Victims in Emergency Need) by hosting a scrapbook party and charging admission.

The girls already have future plans.

“I am looking forward to my next community project,” Kate said.

That project will be to help stock Conway’s food banks. She says she is concerned that, during the non-holiday season, stocks run low, so she plans to begin in February.

Maggie, whose brother has Asperger’s Syndrome, is planning to gather a team to participate in the October Walk for Awareness for Asperger’s at the Clinton Center.

Ashley plans to begin work on her Gold Award this summer.

“You want your Gold Award to be something no one else has done and to be kind of over the top,” she said. She also plans to become a troop leader as an adult.

Maggie recently saw a Girl Scout T-shirt for sale displaying these words: “One girl can make a difference, but girls together can change the world.”

There is no doubt that these three young women are committed to changing their world for the better, both as individuals and together.