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They 'Sing for Their Supper' and Give to Needy

Girl Scouts collect 8,000 pounds of food for the Community Holiday Coalition.

The Loudoun Girl Scouts contributed a fraction of what the Boy Scouts gave, but they maintain they had more fun collecting canned goods for the needy. And they contributed 2,000 more pounds of food than last year, bringing the total to 8,000 pounds.

Girl Scout Leader Kit Kobran said Sunday that the girls “Sing for their Supper” to generate food for the Community Holiday Coalition. They sang Christmas carols and collected canned goods in their neighborhoods and at area grocery stores. She gave kudos to the Boy Scouts, who collected 78,800 pounds of food for the Thanksgiving food drive, but downplayed the difference. The boys’ approach is more organized while the girls’ is “free form,” she said. “We want to do good and to help out, and we do want it to be something fun.”

Emily Tatman, 13, of Countryside, said she liked the singing and taking the food to the coalition’s warehouse earlier this month. Lerner Corporation donated 20,000 square feet of space at the Vintage Park One Office Complex in Sterling for the coalition. “I like to sort the foods. It’s fun,” she said.

Tatman said contributions were greater this year, with people bringing bags full of goods out of the stores. She plans to continue helping the needy when she becomes an adult. “It’s a nice idea to help them.”

Kobran, who lives in Leesburg and leads Girl Scout Troop 1353 in Sterling, said she came up with the idea for “Sing for Their Supper” seven years ago. “The Loudoun County Department of Social Services had an “Adopt a Family” program, she recalled. Girl Scout troops would provide each family with a holiday meal and gifts for the adults and children. “In those days, you contacted the family and learned something about them,” she said.

THE DEPARTMENT replaced the program with the coalition’s “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” initiative. “When they changed their needs, we changed ours,” she said. “I’ve always been a singer, singing with local groups … and I teach singing.”

Kobran missed the days when families and friends went Christmas caroling and were invited in for hot chocolate. She proposed the girls sing for their supper and gather afterwards with county troops to enjoy beverages and cookies. Her troop provides hot chocolate and lemonade and the others bring cookies. They sing more carols, make crafts, play games and help the coalition organize the food into categories, such as vegetables or soups. “There are very few opportunities for Girl Scouts to see other Girl Scouts,” she said. “They could see 1,000 girls come in. … The girls also get a real sense of how powerful Girl Scouting can be. Nobody thinks it’s a lot of work.”

The troops also fill stockings for babies and teenagers. A baby stocking might have powder, a binky, a teether, a toy or that sort of thing. They will fill the other stocking with makeup, toe socks, hair products, etc.

THE “SING for Their Supper” is one of many service projects the troops take on annually. Other volunteer opportunities include planting trees, providing assistance to senior citizens and overseeing younger scouts at summer camps. “A cornerstone of Girl Scout philosophy is to help the community,” she said.

Karen Valez, coordinator of the Community Holiday Coalition, said donations from residents, businesses and organizations helped nearly 1,200 families this Christmas. “I’m so appreciate of this community,” she said Friday. “It’s truly neighbors helping neighbors, bringing people together who need help with those who want to help.”

She applauded the efforts of the Girl Scouts, adding that the coalition members plan to challenge the girls to bring even more food next year.

Kobran said she remembered the “Sing for Their Supper” was canceled last year due to a snowstorm. But the scouts braved the elements. “I went there with my four-wheel drive,” she said. “As it turned out, one of the workers was there. … Dozens and dozens of troops came.”

The girls filled the shopping carts with canned goods, then stacked them on the shelves. They also tackled pallets full of donations from area companies. “Within a half hour, the kids had taken care of all of it,” she said. “The same thing happened this year. They had a room full of cans and boxes everywhere. A room 20-by-20 was sorted and put away.”

Kobran said about 100 troops participated in this year’s “Sing for Their Supper.” “Participation is growing,” she said. “Every year, more people are hearing about it.”