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Girl Scout unlocks gift of reading
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Childhood memories of playing tag or climbing trees may kindle thoughts of youthful innocence. But what of the people whose childhood memories involve visiting a parent behind bars?
The families of those incarcerated can be an overlooked aspect of society. That’s why Warren County High School junior Victoria England has undertaken a project to provide books to children visiting a parent at the jail.
The project is for her Gold Award, the most prestigious honor in Girl Scouts. It’s equivalent to the Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouts.
“I got the idea from talking with Sheriff Jackie Matheny,” said Victoria. “He said a lot of children come in and out of the jail visiting a parent. For some of them they are here every week and they have nothing to do while they are waiting. They just sit. I wanted to give them some books to read.”
England collected a library of over 1,100 books, which includes a donation of some 500 books from Morrison School. The books are for all different age levels, including picture books for small children to even some books for adults.
“I originally thought this would be for just children but it can be for the entire family,” said Victoria. “If they want a book here they can have it. They can take it home or do whatever they want with it. I have plans to replenish the supply.”
The Gold Award is a rare Girl Scout distinction. England said only about 10 percent of all Girl Scouts gain council approval for their Gold Award project and only 5.4 percent actually earn the award. England has not received the Gold Award yet. This project only puts her in consideration.
Per conditions of the project, England is required to do all the work herself. That’s why she solicited all the donations and even made an attractive area, called the Imagination Center, in one corner of the jail lobby. England made the bookcase which stands in that corner with the help of Kirby Freeze.
While not having an exact number, Sheriff Matheny said dozens of visitors come to see a family member at the jail each week. Inmates are allowed visitors for one hour each week.
England said she would also like to spend time with children who are visiting the jail.
“I’d like to find a good time when I can come out maybe once a week and read to them and give them friendly support,” said Victoria. “They need someone to lean on too.”
Victoria is the daughter of Gary and Pam England. Melody Hyder is the troop leader of Girl Scout Troop 1142 and Melonie Turner has been her project advisor.