Troops have the option of doing service projects while they spend weekends at one of our council camps. They volunteer their time to do a project that would either benefit the camp or benefit scouting. Recently several Boy Scout Troops from the Omaha area participated in a very unique service project while camping at Little Sioux Scout Ranch.
In the aftermath of the terrible tornado that hit Little Sioux in June of 2008, an organization out of New York came to Little Sioux to help build the wonderful chapel that you see today in the north valley. The New York Says Thank You Foundation also brought along another group of volunteers involved in a project from Texas that created something they call The Stars of Hope. It is a unique volunteer program that empowers children to transform communities affected by disasters through the creation of colorful and inspiring art. The Stars of Hope group came to Little Sioux and involved scouts, cub scouts and other children in creating the stars while the chapel was being built. They then were placed on the new north trail build in memory of Ben Petrzilka, one of the scouts killed in the tornado.
By working directly with school districts and local first responders in communities affected by natural disasters such as tornadoes, like the one which devastated Little Sioux in 2008, or man-made disasters such as the mass shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, the organization empowers thousands of children to bring a sense of hope and color back to their communities in the aftermath of historic tragedy.
This arm of the Foundation has grown in the past several years and is now in need of thousands and thousands of stars to distribute in the areas of New York City and New Jersey affected by Hurricane Sandy. Groups of volunteers in several areas of the country are making the stars and putting on a base coat of paint to then allow school children in the those areas to paint the messages of hope, love and encouragement on the stars and have them placed in the neighborhoods affected in this case by Hurricane Sandy. Already hundreds of stars have been placed in in neighborhoods affected by the hurricane as well as in Newtown, Connecticut.
Little Sioux has become one of the areas where the stars are being made as our way of "paying it forward" for all the help New York gave us in our time of need. Over the past month or so, several troops camping at Little Sioux have painted over 500 stars that are going to be sent to New York in the very near future.
So the next time you camp at Little Sioux, ask the ranger if you can volunteer an hour of your time to help in the worthy cause. This project which is ongoing, will also be helping other areas of the country in the future to provide a smile and color and help people recover from disasters.
For more information about this wonderful project, go to www.starsofhopeusa.org. Click on Our Projects then Little Sioux.