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Girl Scout uses cookie dough to fund day camp for fellow scouts

Brandon Paykamian • Jun 16, 2017 at 10:11 PM

Teaching youth to give back and take leadership roles in their communities can be one of the most important things a society can do to empower them and the community around them.

Aside from selling lots of cookies, that’s one thing the Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians are most known for.

Belle Gates, 17, has been busy for almost 13 years doing community service with the Girl Scouts. As she continues to work for the troop and the community around her, she uses a large portion of the money she raises selling cookies to fund various projects. Many of these projects work toward the issues she cares most about.

This year, she has sold more than 2,000 boxes of cookies to fund many of the activities at the camp, including a day camp that she funds almost solely with the money she has earned over the months. Here, she encourages the other scouts to donate supplies for the local animal shelters and make crafts, many of which use recycled goods.

“The girls have gotten to make a bunch of different projects that they get to make themselves,” Gates said. “They can be creative and do it however they want to do it.”

Aside from working to encourage other scouts to do sustainable and fun activities, one of Gates’ biggest motivators in staying involved in the community is her love for animals, which prompted her to raise money for a fundraiser that went toward supplies for the local animal shelters and the Humane Society. This project won her the Gold Award last May.

Gates said she works to extend the same love she has for her pets to the animals of the community, which she said she’s always had a soft spot for. Through her work with shelters, she has also helped these animals find new homes.

“I’ve always loved to give back through helping animals,” Gates said. “I have a dog and two cats, and I love to take care of them and make sure they have all the supplies they need.”

The day camp, which Gates has been working hard to run, only costs $10, thanks to her effort in funding the activities at Camp Wildwood.

Roni Gray, a service unit adult volunteer for the Girl Scouts in Johnson City, said she has been impressed with how much enthusiasm and hard work Gates has put into her projects this year.

“Belle has organized this pretty much by herself. This is her baby,” Gray said. “And she’s been giving back to the community using her own money.

“Every event Girl Scouts (like Gates) do is for the girls and for the community.”

For more information on what the Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians and other scouts like Gates are doing regionally, visit its website at www.girlscoutcsa.org.

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