Valdosta Daily Times

February 19, 2014

Girl Scout earns award by helping charity

Adam Floyd
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — A local charity received a welcome makeover as a part of a local Girl Scout’s Gold Award project.

The St. Francis Center at 520 E. Mary St. is a community outreach of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church that operates a thrift shop. They use the proceeds to help locals with utility bills. The center also has a food pantry that assists between 100 and 130 individuals each month.

The center’s donation room recently underwent a makeover after high school senior Darla Dunning chose to incorporate the non-profit into her Girl Scouts Gold Award project.

“The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, and it’s equivalent to the Eagle Scout Award for Boy Scouts,” said Tina Joiner, Dunning’s troop leader. “You have to earn it before you leave high school by doing an on-going project that will change the community.”

When Dunning walked into the St. Francis Center to volunteer last summer, she knew exactly what what her Gold Award project was going to be.

“When I walked in here at first, I noticed that it looked unappealing, and everything was mixed in,” said Dunning. “People would just put things on the shelf.”

Dunning felt that center’s donation room could be more functional, so she developed a project and got to work.

“She spent six months making others aware that it was here, and in that time she focused on getting the shelves and the floors done,” said Laura Dunning, Darla’s mother.

Dunning used money given to her by her girl scout troop along with donations to give the donation room a new floor, freshly painted shelves and a new organizational system that makes it easier to identify what the center needs. She also secured space in the St. John’s church bulletin to alert parishioners of the center’s needs.  

The project earned Dunning the Gold Award from the Girl Scouts, and she received her Gold Award pin during a ceremony last Thursday at the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia council office in Albany.

Dunning is looking forward to helping other Girl Scouts with their Gold Award projects in the future and hopes that the work she has done with the St. Francis Center will continue to make a difference and that others will get involved.

The St. Francis Center accepts donations of nonperishable food, personal hygiene items and clothes. The center is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.