"Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other is gold." The old Girl Scouts song still rings true for the young women of Troop 252.
The group of Bluffton girls, who have been together as a troop for six years, made some new friends last week at Family Promise of Beaufort County, a nonprofit interfaith organization that provides food, shelter and support to homeless people in the community.
The eight girls -- all finishing either eighth or ninth grade -- have been working for more than a year to earn silver awards, the highest honor Cadettes can receive.
These Cadettes started out as Daisies, moved up to Brownies, then Juniors and Cadettes. Their next stop will be Seniors and finally Ambassadors.
As part of their efforts to achieve the award, the local girls made about 20 fleece blankets for Family Promise guests and delivered them to the Bluffton office May 26.
Family Promise of Beaufort County executive director Emily Bugay said the blankets are perfect for the organization's guests because they are something they can call their own.
"It's really nice for the families to have something that they can keep with them that really feels homey -- that's theirs," Bugay said.
Troop 252's assistant leader, Sheryl Keating, said it's important for Girl Scouts to help others because it teaches them to give back to the community and to realize how lucky they are.
Troop leader Renée Polcari said in order to receive the award the girls had to perform 40 hours of community service.
The scouts also had to use their own money to pay for the project, so they used what they earned selling cookies to buy some of the fabric for the blankets.
WHY FAMILY PROMISE?
One of the girls thought it would be nice to make blankets for their service project. The others liked the idea; they just needed to find a deserving group to receive the blankets. Then some of the girls suggested Family Promise because their churches are active with the nonprofit organization and they wanted to help people in Beaufort County.
Shelby Keating, 13, said it feels good to help others. She said even though she and her fellow scouts made the blankets to receive their silver awards, the real reason behind the project was to help people in their community.
"If you help out the ... people that need the help, then when they get back up, they'll help other people, too," Shelby said. "So it's like a ... pay-it-forward kind of thing."
To each blanket, the girls attached a copy of "Hope," a poem by Emily Dickinson. They thought the poem was appropriate for the blankets' new owners. Part of the poem reads:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without
And never stops at all.
Bugay said she was amazed how the young girls were so aware of the world around them -- that not everyone has clothes to wear, food to eat or a home of their own. The girls of Troop 252 were so touched by what Family Promise does for homeless people in the area that they decided to volunteer their time with the organization. They plan to return this summer to play with children whose parents need time to study for General Educational Development tests.
"We're extremely grateful for them -- that they would think about us and about our families," Bugay said. "When everybody comes together in the community it really makes a big difference."