By Morgan Smith
The Mint Hill Middle graduate and soon-to-be freshman at Independence High has been part of Girl Scout Troop 1333 of Philadelphia Presbyterian Church since she was in kindergarten. Known in the troop and to her family as being quiet and shy, Maria was nervous when it came time to start her Silver Award; she knew the project would be tougher to complete than the Girl Scout Bronze Award, which involved the cooperation and teamwork of her entire troop.
This time, she would lead the project all on her own, and it wasn’t going to be easy.
The Silver Award is for girls in sixth through eighth grade and requires girls to first identify an issue they are passionate about and find a way to benefit the local community with the help of a few team members along the way.
Maria first recruited her mom Gloria, her biggest advocate and helper, to get the ball rolling. Inspired by initiatives at her church, Christ Rescue Temple Church in Winston-Salem, and band class at Mint Hill Middle, Maria decided she wanted to help the hungry by collecting canned goods. Celebrating 101 years of Girl Scouts, she thought it would be appropriate to set her goal at 202, in hopes Girl Scouts will live on for another 101 years.
Maria quickly gained the support of church members, as donations poured in to help the “Cans for Maria” campaign.
Then she reached out to local grocery stores, the hardest part of her initiative, because it forced her to talk to people she didn’t know. The following stores donated: Food Lion in the Hoods Crossroads shopping center; the Harris Teeter in the Mint Hill Pavilion shopping center; Food Lion on Monroe Road in Charlotte; and the Harris Teeter in the Idlewild Market shopping center in Stallings.
She walked around her Oxford Glen subdivision, knocking on doors and asking for donations.
“I thought I would end up with less cans than my goal, but I actually ended up with more,” Maria said.
After about three weeks of collections, church members donated about 200 cans alone, with local grocery stores kicking in more than 100 cans and now her total is nearly doubled, coming in around 400 cans.
“I was really happy and just really surprised,” Maria said.
Part of Maria’s project also included getting the cans in the hands of people in need. And Maria came up with a solution that could help people in her own school community.
“Every winter in band class, we have a winter concert. Every time, our band teacher asks us to contribute to the school pantry to help students in need,” Maria said. So she decided to help her school, and donated every can to help ensure the Mint Hill Middle School pantry will be fully stocked for the start of the 2013-14 school year.
Maria says her Silver Award project really helped her to be more sociable and has helped to better develop her people skills, skills she says will help her in high school and as she starts to plan for her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achieving award in Girl Scouts.
And for Gloria Robinson, she and Maria’s dad, Orvice, couldn’t be more proud. Gloria Robinson credits Scouts for helping Maria become an A/B honor roll student and for having perfect attendance in both elementary and middle schools.
“As a parent, I could not ask for a better child. She is a good girl all around,” she said. “She is very attentive to people and this project has really helped her come out of her shell.”