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Brownies aid Katrina schoolchildren

AHOSKIE – There's no greater feeling in the world than to reach out to someone in need.

That lesson of life is being instilled into the hearts and minds of a group of local young girls as Ahoskie Brownie Troop 2107 is reaching out to the children affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Taking part in the "Kids Helping Kids" program, the 10 members of Troop 2107 are in the midst of a collection drive that will ultimately send school supplies to children in the storm-affected areas.

"There's no better way to teach our troop that the Girl Scout motto – ‘always be prepared' and slogan, ‘do a good turn daily' – are more than just words on paper," Catherine Pierce, Troop 2107 co-leader said.

She continued, "We talked to the girls about the disaster down along the Gulf States and how we could do our part to help. They really got excited about the fact they could make a difference in the life of someone who lost everything they had."

Over the past week, troop members have busied themselves with their project. They have solicited help from family and friends in an effort to collect book bags, pencils, pens, erasers, notebooks, binders and personal items like a toothbrush and toothpaste.

"Some of those children don't have anything left but the clothes they had on when the storm hit," said Carolyn Pierce, Catherine's sister and also a co-leader of the troop. "This hurricane was a significant event and Catherine and I wanted to make sure our girls understood the impact the storm had on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

"Our girls are very smart," Carolyn continued. "They know what's going on and we feel this project is something that they, later in life, can proudly say they reached out and made a difference in the lives of those affected by Hurricane Katrina."

Sitting around on the floor of a Sunday School room at First Presbyterian Church in Ahoskie, the Brownies indeed displayed a sense of understanding how the storm made such a great impact upon the lives of those in its path.

"All they had just washed away," said Rebecca Sykes. "They had no water. They had nothing to eat or drink."

All the girls agreed they would be sad and scared if they lost their home and all their belongings. The group, all first-graders, said they enjoyed going to school and would be upset if their school was destroyed.

The Brownies project drew praise from Rev. Richard Rice, pastor of First Presbyterian Church.

"This project is a tremendous opportunity for these children, who represent different churches, to be involved in a hands-on way when it comes to providing assistance to those affected by Hurricane Katrina," Rev. Rice said. "We are proud to be the host church of Brownie Troop 2107 and we support these young girls and their leaders 100 percent."

To date, the local girls have collected boxes full of school supplies. However, there is a great need for additional items. The public is urged to help by purchasing the aforementioned items and dropping them off at the Ahoskie Public Library, located on Church Street just east of the railroad crossing.

"In the first week, we gave our girls a goal to bring back at least one item," Catherine Pierce said. "They came in with much more than just one item."

There is one week remaining until the supplies are shipped to a central distribution location in Houston, Texas.

"Up until that time, please join us in helping the children who lost everything in the hurricane," Catherine Pierce concluded. "Help us to help them try to get back on their feet."