Girl Scouts give back with Thanksgiving baskets

CHAZY - Girl Scouts live to serve their communities, and Thanksgiving is a time of year when that mission takes on a special meaning.

In the town of Chazy, Girl Scouts were busily preparing Thanksgiving dinner baskets for underprivileged families and senior citizens last week, just in time for the holiday. Service unit manager Lisa M. Panetta said it's been a tradition in the community for more than six years.

"The girls each bring a nonperishable food item that would be part of a Thanksgiving dinner," said Panetta, "and we get turkeys donated and buy the rest with some funds we have and the troop leaders buy items, too."

Through Chazy Central Rural School, the Girls Scouts are put in touch with families interested in receiving free Thanksgiving baskets, said Panetta. Sacred Heart Church gives the troops names of senior citizens who would appreciate a basket as well. The items collected are then divided equally into baskets for as many families and seniors citizens as needed, with six baskets assembled this year.

"When you see the girls' faces when people receive them, it's amazing," said Panetta.

Girl Scout Kaelen Billow of Champlain said she enjoyed sorting the food and putting it into the baskets, knowing she was doing something good for the community.

"It made me feel considerate and caring," said the 6-year-old Billow. "It made me happy."

"I think it's awesome, allowing the kids to do this," said her mother, Susan Billow. "I never had this experience when I was younger."

Seven-year-old Sydney Hampston of Chazy, another Girl Scout, said she was happy to help.

"It felt good because we were helping people with their Thanksgiving. We made it a lot easier for them," she said.

"I think it's great the kids get an opportunity to help the community they live in," added her mother, Christina Hampston. "This is her third year as a Scout and each year she picks up a little more from these activities and understands and appreciates what she has a little more."

The baskets are just part of what the Girls Scouts do on a regular basis, said Panetta. Other activities have included visiting nursing homes, sending cards to members of the military and caroling during the holidays.

"We do something just about every month," said Panetta. "We want to teach them to be involved in the community."

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