Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania Troop 52730, led by Amy Strickler, would always pick a “Christmas family” to receive anonymous gifts. The only stipulations are that the recipients wait until Christmas to open them, and that "from Santa" is put on each package.
The girls, their families, and others in their community donated towards the gifts.
This year, ten fifth-graders in Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania Troop 52006 did the same under Mrs. Strickler's leadership. Mrs. Strickler started this tradition with her older troop and then carried it on with this troop.
The start of a tradition
When Mrs. Strickler's older troop got to the fifth grade, they wanted to do something special since that was their last year in elementary school. Mrs. Strickler wanted the girls to witness the gift of giving. They always gave but never really experienced the joy of seeing the reactions on the recipients' faces.
They decided that the life skills students at Delaware Valley Elementary School would be the perfect kids to spoil a little with gifts and to spend time with. Mrs. Strickler cannot emphasize enough the impact it had on her troop. They still talk about it to this day. The children they buddied up with still go out of their way to say hello to them.
It was an amazing experience and a day Mrs. Strickler will always remember. They learned that it's so much better to give than to receive. Throughout the years her troop has given to military families, single moms, families who have lost their jobs, and families who have suffered a fire.
Instead of picking a Christmas family this year, the troop picked "Christmas Kiddos." This way, they could see first-hand the good they were doing.
Each Girl Scout had a buddy from the life skills class. They purchased presents for that child and then had a wrapping party with treats and music, where they could just have fun together. It was fun seeing it all come together, and what everyone was getting.
The girls’ families and other people in the community donated gifts, including guidance counselor Matthew Adelfio. Mrs. Strickler’s older troop and their families also gave gifts and also helped with wrapping them. Mrs. Strickler looked over the donations and, with her husband, filled in the gaps if one child had a lot more than another, or if there was something one child really wanted but did not receive.
A karaoke Christmas
The troop gave each child a tee-shirt that said "Somebody Loves Me in Troop 006." The students loved the shirt and put it on over their clothes right away, which the troop thought was so cute.
Each Christmas Kiddo received a tablet and a karaoke machine. They opened a karaoke machine at the party and really enjoyed singing to it. The song "Let It Go" was probably the biggest hit. The smiles on their faces made the girls’ Christmas.
One of the most special moments was when one student, Greg, opened up his karaoke machine. He had tears in his eyes. It really meant a lot him. It brought tears to everyone’s eyes just watching him.
Other items received included stuffed animals, trucks and cars, baby dolls, hats and mittens, scarves. Each child got their own toy-filled stocking with their name on it. They each got clothes and pajamas, books, Legos, and more.
The most special thing about that day was watching the troop interact with the children. They treated them with respect and as friends. Mrs. Strickler knows her girls will remember this forever and hopes the life skills children will as well.
The troop’s next mission will be putting together a Powerpoint presentation about why it's important to spend time with the life skills children and treat them the same you would anyone else and, most of all, include them.
The Girl Scout troop wants Ms. Daniels, the life skills teacher, to know that she is a blessing to allow them to do this. She truly helps the troop in so many ways, and the Scouts say they cannot thank her enough.