Local Scouts serve Catholic parish, community

By Christine M. Williams, Anchor Correspondent

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SEEKONK, Mass. — American Heritage Girls Troop 3712 starts its second full year this month and hopes to increase its commitment to service. 

From fall to spring, Scouts will volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, a nursing home and a Veterans’ Day event. Leaders of the troop, chartered by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk, say the girls enjoy making others smile.

“When they actually go out into the community, and they meet the veterans or they meet the elderly people who live in their neighborhoods, it means something to them,” Sharon Abbott, the troop’s vice coordinator, said of the Scouts. “You can see their faces light up and know they feel like they’re making a difference.”

The troop meets the first and third Thursdays of each month. Some of those gatherings will focus on earning badges and others on serving the community, particularly the parish where the troop is based.

Elizabeth Day, the troop coordinator, said the Scouts want to give back to the parish that has sponsored them and helped them to grow. More girls have already signed up this year, and troop leaders hope even more will be inspired to join.

On the grounds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the girls have revamped a Rosary garden, which was originally an Eagle Scout project. They weeded, mulched and painted the Rosary stepping stones around the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. They plan to continue maintaining the site.

At the parish, they will also participate in the Massachusetts Citizens for Life rose drive and hand out bottles at the baby bottle drive to benefit Abundant Hope, a pregnancy resource center in Attleboro.

They will also visit Abundant Hope this year as they did last year when they earned their Respect Life Patches; the girls sorted baby clothes and toured the center.

On Veterans’ Day, they will participate in a flag-raising ceremony in Dighton. In December, they will go Christmas caroling at a nursing home and bring along a craft they will make for the people they meet there.

There will also be plenty of time spent earning badges and patches. Troop leaders plan to help the girls earn at least two badges this year. One, called “My style,” teaches about the virtue of modesty. Another on cinematography has the girls particularly excited. They will be earning a St. Damien patch as well. Last year, they earned their Rosary patch.

The age range for girls in AHG is five to 18. The Seekonk troop has 11 girls ranging in age from five to 15. They are divided into different age groups, and the kindergartners have a special program where they are introduced to the program. They will earn beads for a necklace rather than the badges and patches. Beads can be earned for memorizing prayers and participation.

AHG was founded in 1995 in West Chester, Ohio with 10 troops and about 100 members; there are now 30,000 Scouts in 48 states. The group’s mission is to build women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country.

Day said that the draw of the organization is that it is faith-based and Christ-centered.

“It’s got all the values and virtues that we want to encourage in our children,” she said. “My daughter does soccer, she does music and she does horseback riding, which are all great activities for the heart and soul, but you also want to have that character development.”

The troop is an opportunity for reinforcing faith that is taught at home and giving the young women an opportunity to serve their communities. “Faith without works is dead,” Day reminds.

Abbott said that like other scouting programs, AHG teaches skills and service. What sets it apart is that importance the entire organization places on faith and family.

“In today’s society, with the media, there’s really no filtering of anything anymore and there’s no way to protect your child from it. Our best defense is to educate them and arm them with the knowledge of what’s important, morally speaking,” she said.

Abbot added about her daughter’s participation in the troop, “I think it’s absolutely essential.” 

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