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Teddy bear drive to teach leadership

CHAMPLAIN - Teaching leadership skills is one of the goals for the Girl Scouts. One local troop has come up with a unique way to put these skills to use, as well as helping the community. On Wednesday, May 19, the Northeastern Clinton Girl Scout Brownie Troop 4027, based in Champlain, will be at the Champlain Volunteer Fire Department, 162 Elm St., from 5:30-7:30 p.m., collecting new and gently used teddy bears and stuffed animals.

"We're accepting all kinds of stuffed animals," said troop leader Kenna Dumas. "It can be anything."

The idea for the teddy bear/stuffed animal drive came when Dumas found out the Champlain Rescue Squad has three ambulances with stuffed animals to give to children during emergency situations.

"It usually calms [children] down," explained assistant captain Cory Thompson. "They might have a favorite blanket or a favorite toy and as they're being whisked off in the ambulance, you tend to forget those things." Thompson said many children can be nervous in the ambulance but when they receive a stuffed animal "they see we're on their side, there's nothing to be afraid of."

Dumas said when her troop was discussing ways to help the community, many of the children "wanted to do [the drive] to make other kids happy and ... help them not to be scared."

The drive is part of a new program the Brownie troop is working on called "Journeys," where they earn "keys" by completing steps of the program.

The first key - the Discover Key - is when the girls learn more about themselves.

"Their qualities and their values and what they can contribute as being themselves," Dumas explained.

The second key - the Connect Key - is when they work with their family.

"They lead their family in a healthy-living activity kind of thing," Dumas said.

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