VALPARAISO | Valparaiso High School senior Maddisen Brennecke, an Ambassador Girl Scout, achieved her Gold Award for organizing a community-wide sewing project of fleece mittens and hats for Hilltop Neighborhood House titled "More Than Just Fleece."
Brennecke recognized the need for warm outerwear and through her project worked to resolve the issue, while at the same time teaching the importance of basic sewing skills.
"Over the past 13 years, Girl Scouting has shown me the importance of community service through projects such as food drives, volunteering at soup kitchens, improving community landscape, and making small blankets to send to children in third world countries," Brennecke said.
Brennecke began her mission by asking for donations of fleece from the community. She started organizing workshops with both Girl Scouts in the area and the children at Walt's Place, an afterschool program with Hilltop Neighborhood House.
In fall 2012, Brennecke's first workshop took place, with more than 30 Girl Scouts ranging from fourth to twelfth grade. The girls sewed mittens and hats producing over 30 sets of mittens and hats for the children at Hilltop.
Two workshops were planned at Walt's Place for participants of the program. At these events, the children were able to make their own mittens and a hat while learning button-sewing skills as they made their own button man.
"I really enjoyed seeing the children gain a sense of accomplishment as they made the mittens and hats for themselves. I liked being involved in the project; it proved to me how much joy one can receive by giving back to the community," said VHS senior Stephanie Baxter-Ivey, an ambassador Girl Scout, helping Brennecke with this project.
Brennecke worked on reaching her goal of more than 75 sets of mittens and hats. With the help of her mother, Megan Brennecke, and sister, Emily Brennecke, she reached that goal and then surpassed it, as she was able to donate more than 100 sets of mittens and hats in December 2012.
Brennecke is urging the community to continue with the sewing or knitting of the winter wear. Brochures outlining the project and ways to get involved are available at St. Teresa of Avila Church or the public library. Community members can also contact Brennecke through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brennecke will be attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall majoring in applied and computational mathematics and statistics.
On Sunday, Brennecke and two of her fellow ambassadors will be receiving their Gold Awards in a ceremony at 2 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.