December 31, 2006

Four members of Girl Scout Troop 647 of Smithsburg earned the Girl Scout Gold Award for their "Operation Santa" project.

Tara Blacklin of Smithsburg High School, Jennifer Bowlus of North Hagerstown High School and Carly Chambers and Alex Koch of South Hagerstown High School decided to help their community at Christmas time.

They contacted San Mar Children's Home (29 girls), Cedar Ridge Children's Home (35 boys) and a section of the nursing home at Homewood (13 residents), and helped St. Paul's Church in Funkstown pack and distribute food to local families at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The girls collected items for these facilities with the help of other local Girl Scout troops. With the help of a sewing group from Homweood, they were able to give each organization pillows, lap quilts and hats. They also made memo boards, scarves, wreaths, bows and cookie trays. All were distributed before Christmas.


The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. It takes 30 hours of leadership experience, 40 hours of career experience, earning several badges, and 65 hours of planning and labor to complete the project itself.

Jennifer Dennis, of Chambersburg, Pa., recently earned the Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Dennis is a member of Teen Girl Scout Troop 1250 in the Conococheague Neighborhood of Penn Laurel Girl Scout Council.

To earn her Gold Award, Dennis worked with her dog Piper by visiting local retirement homes to cheer the residents as part of becoming a member of Kindly Canines, a local therapy dog group.

Dennis and Piper had to go through a series of training to become a therapy dog team before visiting the homes. Her project also involved helping Kindly Canines make new 'bone' holders for fliers about the program to be placed in local businesses.

Dennis, the daughter of Roxanne Dennis, is a graduate of Chambersburg Area Senior High School. She attends Delaware Valley College and majors in animal behavior, training and enrichment, planning to one day train service dogs for the blind. She also enjoys horseback riding, gymnastics, working with Piper, and Girl Scouting.

The Herald-Mail Articles