Dogs and cats at the Blount County Animal Center have some new toys to play with and hopefully more visibility in the community after four Junior Girl Scouts at Union Grove Middle completed the requirements for their Bronze Award.

Victoria Carrington, Emma Moulton, Madyson Crumpton and Cassie Swett, all sixth graders, attained this level after organizing a project to create awareness of animal welfare in Blount County. The girls, who are all friends and members of Junior Troop 20728, worked with the Blount County Animal Center. In addition to making the cat and dog toys, the Scouts participated in a recent Farm Day at Tractor Supply, where they handed out fliers about animal adoptions. They also collected supplies for the center — dog and cat food, cat litter, bleach, treats, etc.

The friends had no problem finding a cause to support.

“They went through a series of options,” said Melissa Carrington, Victoria’s mother and co-leader of the troop. “It needed to be something that affects our community. All of them are so very passionate about animals, so it was natural for them to want to help animals. They started investigating and knew they wanted to help the Blount County Animal Center.”

Melissa said the scope of the project widened over time. “It went from ‘Let’s help the animals’ to realizing there is so much more than collecting supplies.”

Victoria said she and the others learned about a program at BCAC called Pets for Patriots in which veterans and current military personnel can adopt animals without having to pay the adoption fees. “I don’t think a lot of people know about it,” she said.

On Farm Day, which was Aug. 27, the four Scouts handed out information on Pets for Patriots at Tractor Supply. While there, they also collected the donations and then took them to the animal center.

Emmma Moulton said they collectively spent 21 hours on this project, earning the Bronze Award. Next in line will be the Silver Award, followed by Gold. These Junior Scouts will bridge into Cadets soon.

Because her family had adopted an animal through Pets for Patriots, she already was familiar with the program.

Shining moments

Emma’s mom, Courtney Moulton, said seeing the girls in action on this community service project was a proud moment.

“They did not hold back,” Courtney said. “They came up with the ideas. They researched what toys they wanted to make. They weren’t afraid to approach people on Farm Day. They were super excited to bring back all of the donations and had to play with all of the animals.”

In fact, the Moulton household grew by one as they now have adopted a kitten from the center.

Cassie Swett said they all worked well together. Her favorite part of the whole project was getting to make the toys. In all, they made 72.

This was Swett’s first encounter with the BCAC. She said it’s so important for everyone to be aware this facility exists so more animals will get adopted.

The Scouts also have been introduced to a new project that involves providing dog houses to people in the community who don’t have proper housing for their pets, Melissa said. She said the girls will be helping on a prototype house.

By earning the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the girls have taken their first steps to becoming community leaders. Their accomplishments reflect leadership and citizenship skills that set them apart from their peers.

“Earning the Girl Scout Bronze Award is truly a remarkable achievement, and each girl exemplifies leadership in all its forms,” said Lynne Fugate, chief executive officer of the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians. “They saw a need in their community and around the world and took action. Their extraordinary dedication, perseverance and leadership is making the world a better place.”

Since 1916, girls have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Bronze Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Junior can achieve and gives girls a chance to work as a team with other Girl Scouts on a common goal. Girls focus on projects that make lasting change in their communities.

“That’s why I love that she’s in the Girl Scouts,” Courtney said. “Because of all the life skills they learn. (Emma) has gained so much confidence from the time she started. It’s just amazing.”

Melanie joined The Daily Times in the early 90s and has served as the Life section editor since 1993. A William Blount and UT alum, Melanie is generally the early arriver who turns on the lights in the newsroom.

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