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Girl Scouts, Operation Shoebox ship school supplies to orphanage overseas

by on April 11, 2013 2:14 PM

STATE COLLEGE — Girl Scouts in Centre County recently took part in a project called Operation BackPack, which furnished a feeling of philanthropy and unity among the scouts. However, the benefits of the project will reach well beyond Centre County.

Local Girl Scouts partnered with Dino’s Operation Shoebox, a nonprofit that sends packages and letters to troops overseas, to collect and fill 250 backpacks of school supplies to be delivered to an orphanage and women’s shelter in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Tara Mondock, troop leader of Junior Troop 41230, said her troop of nine 5th grade Grays Woods Elementary students had the help of other local scout troops, as well as a variety of area churches, organizations and residents to compile and stuff the sacks. The backpacks were delivered about three weeks ago to Operation Shoebox’s location in Pennsylvania Furnace, Mondock said.

“They will then be shipped to Kabul and another orphanage where service men and women volunteering will put these supplies to great use,” she said.

Mondock’s Port Matilda troop has been working with Dino’s Operation Shoebox for the past five years gathering Girl Scout cookies to send to soldiers. This year, the scouts reached out to the new director, Paula Parker, to ask what else the organization needed help with, Mondock said.

“There are many reasons that this is an important project,” Parker said. “The Afghan orphans don’t have enough funding to purchase many school supplies. Because of the hard work of the Centre County Girl Scouts and the partnership with Dino’s Operation Shoebox, each child will have a backpack of their own.”

Beginning Feb. 22, the Girl Scouts collected and purchased supplies, and spread the word to family and friends. Drop-off points were established at local churches, Mondock said.

The initial goal was to fill 101 backpacks, Mondock said, in celebration of the Girl Scouts’ 101st birthday. However, after Penn State’s Whitmore Lab donated hundreds more, that number quickly grew.

“This is a start for the girls,” Mondock said. “They may want to do this every year.”

Collected supplies include notebooks, paper, pencils, erasers, rulers, pens, highlighters, crayons and teacher supply boxes, Mondock said, among other items.

“This is a huge project with benefits we may never see, not only for the Afghan community, but internationally as well,” Parker said. “It’s a big deal for the Girl Scouts as well. What a lesson for them. They are not only learning how to support our troops in this project … they are also giving to children in need in Afghanistan. This project is a real example of how even a group of young girls can have a worldly impact.”

Mondock said the scouts have done a lot of community service in the local area, but Operation BackPack “really extended our reach globally.”

“They can see what a difference they can make collectively,” she said.

This project particularly “hit hard for them,” Mondock said, because the supplies they collected to send overseas will go to children their age, students just like them who do not have the same resources as they do.

“They were eager to do it,” Mondock said. “It was an incredible thing to watch.”

Parker, also co-founder of Military Families Ministry, said projects like these help young people get involved in doing something for someone else.

“I think that community service needs to be an important part of our children’s lives,” she said. “I believe that this project will leave a lasting impression on many … not only the international troops serving alongside the U.S. troops, but the Afghan people as well. Watching the kids helping other kids a world apart from their own is an amazing experience and something they won’t soon forget.”

Additionally, Operation BackPack may allow these orphanages to teach differently, and perhaps more effectively, Parker said.

“Imagine the lifelong impact … they have a chance to get an education,” she said. “I would like to think this will open many doors and will positively impact the lives of these kids. We may never see the full impact on those involved in this project.”

Donors who helped collect supplies, according to Mondock, include: Girl Scout troops 41230 and 40018, Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA’s State College Regional office staff, Bellefonte Area High School staff, Grays United Methodist Church, Halfmoon Christian Fellowship Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bellefonte, and the Mondock, Shannon and Parides families.

According to its website, Dino’s Operation Shoebox was founded in 2003 in an effort to send support, snacks and personal care items to troops deployed outside of the U.S. The organization arranges “We Care” packages, wounded warrior bags, kids’ items bags, “Adopt a Troop,” “Troops for Teachers,” “The Incredible Bulk,” and troops groups, among other projects. The organization replies on donations and partnerships.

Military Families Ministry and Dino’s Operation Shoebox work collaboratively. For more information, visit www.militaryfamiliesministry.com/Operation_Shoebox.html



Staff Writer at The Centre County Gazette
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