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Big Hearts Lead to Birthday Parties for Kids in Need


What happens when a go-getting Girl Scout troop meets fellow Lincoln children in need? Big ideas, big action and a big assist from Disney!

Junior Troop 20568 toured a Lincoln homeless shelter last year and have since dedicated themselves to helping the children who live there. Now, every month, the 14-member troop of Roper Elementary fourth-graders throws a birthday party for all the children at People’s City Mission.

“The girls realized how the children living at the shelter may not even get a birthday party,” said troop co-leader Vanessa Hohlen.  

The project celebrates peers in need while putting the troop on a path to their Bronze Award. The troop also applied for – and won – a Disney Be Inspired grant to help fund the birthday parties.

Birthday parties occur on the second Saturday of every month, and each member of the troop takes a turn planning the monthly party. Every party features Girl Scout-led games, snacks, prizes, a library from which every child gets a book, and a stuffed animal “adoption station.”

According to Vanessa, who co-leads the troop along with Jill Gable, the Girl Scouts were touched by the experience of meeting kids their own age who are affected by homelessness.

“They instantly felt drawn to helping the children staying at the mission,” Vanessa said.

The girls echoed their co-leader.

“I have learned that it makes the parents and the kids at the City Mission happy,” said Amaya. “My goal is to keep doing these birthday parties and to not stop.”

Madison added, “My Girl Scout sisters are very committed to these parties and they put a lot of thought into what they are doing for these parties.

“I love seeing all the happy faces on everyone and knowing they are having fun,” added Avery. “I have learned that I am helping kids out, and I am making a difference in their lives.”

Co-leader Jill said she is more than proud of these amazing girls and the families who have dedicated themselves to these birthday parties.

“They are caring and passionate about their service to the City Mission children,” Jill said. “Our Girl Scout troop is making a difference in others’ lives, in the Lincoln community and are on their way to becoming wonderful leaders."

Learn more about the birthday party project in this Lincoln Journal Star story, or follow the troop on Twitter or Facebook!