Girl Scouts create 'Reading Rain Forest' for children staying at Salvation Army shelter

July 11, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Members of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capitol, from right, Shelby, Evangeline, Hannah and Abigail earn their Silver Star Project badge for improving the laundry room at the Salvation Army in Hagerstown to a "Reading Rain Forest." Now mothers who take their children along while doing laundry have a library for their kids to enjoy.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

A stuffed frog is attached to the wall, which is decorated in a rain forest theme.

Books for children from babies up to school-age students sit in shelves, waiting to lead children on a reading adventure.

Members of a local chapter of the Girls Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital have been working to help children staying at The Salvation Army of Hagerstown, at 534 W. Franklin St., have a more cheerful experience through a “Reading Rain Forest” they developed.

As part of their Silver Star project, which requires them to put in more than 50 hours of community service, four girls from Troop 40165 painted a rain forest mural on the walls of a laundry room in the bottom level of The Salvation Army.

There they put out a collection of books that children can read while their mothers are doing laundry.

“It’s going to be wonderful,” said Karen Lyle, a major at The Salvation Army.

The Reading Rain Forest is in The Salvation Army’s women’s and children’s shelter, a place to stay for women and children who are often escaping domestic violence, Lyle said.

Women in the shelter must have their children with them when they are in the laundry room, so the Reading Rain Forest is designed to keep children occupied while the laundry is being done.

Lyle cut a ribbon on the Reading Rain Forest last week and the girls in the troop talked about their project.

“It makes me feel good inside,” Evangeline Nicholson said.

The women’s and children’s shelter can accommodate 28 people and “we’re constantly full,” Lyle said.

Money is being raised for a new Salvation Army facility on George Street that will include a new gymnasium, computer lab and the agency’s social services offices. That project will free up more space in the women’s and children’s shelter, allowing The Salvation Army to double its capacity in the shelter, Lyle said.

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