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Brownies go scouting for bears
Group collects toys for police to give to needy children
0314toydrive
Girl Scouts Brownie Gabrielle Heath, 9, holds a small brown stuffed dog that will be donated to help the Flowery Branch Police Department as part of the Girl Scouts Troop 13511 “Teddy Town Festival,” set for April 4 in downtown Flowery Branch. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

0314TOYaud

Shanna Cotton, co-leader of a Girl Scouts Troop 13511 in Flowery Branch, talks about a toy and teddy bear drive to benefit the Flowery Branch Police Department.
Teddy Town Festival
What: Toy drive benefiting the Flowery Branch Police Department
When: 11 a.m.-2p.m. April 4
Where: Downtown Flowery Branch
Features: Toy collection, refreshments, games and emergency vehicles on display
Contact: 770-967-6371

FLOWERY BRANCH  — A group of Brownies earning their final merit badges for the year decided they want to design their project around something that would help children less fortunate or in distress.

So, the eight Brownies, part of Girl Scouts Troop 13511, and their adult leaders have worked to organize the “Teddy Town Festival,” set for April 4 in downtown Flowery Branch.

As part of the event, they are asking the community to donate new teddy bears or toys to the Flowery Branch Police Department.
In exchange, donors will receive free tickets for games and food.

The event, set to run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature a flag ceremony, inflatable play areas, arts and crafts, face painting, a cake walk and refreshments. Also, Girl Scout cookies will be on sale.

A police car, fire truck and tow truck will be on display, and visitors can meet Bart, the Flowery Branch police dog.

“We’ll have some fun things ... to attract the children,” said Shanna Cotton, troop co-leader.

The Brownies, who are all second- and third-graders, have a “Journey” handbook they follow throughout the year.

“And they end up doing a big community service event at the end of it,” Cotton said.

The group had to earn three badges this year, including learning about themselves and their fellow Brownies and learning about their family and staying healthy.

“The final badge shows them the bigger picture,” Cotton said. “It goes outside of their family unit, and (that) there’s a community and a world out there.”

The book has “made it easy to teach this stuff to them,” she added. “...You could ask any of my Brownies what they’re doing this (toy drive) for and they would be able to tell you that it’s for the children and the community.”

The group already has been working on the drive.

“I personally have in my garage two big storage bins full of (toys) ... from people who have heard about what we’re doing,” Cotton said.

Flowery Branch Police Chief Gerald Lanich said he and his officers will use the toys and teddy bears to comfort children they come across in police calls.

“They are always the innocent parties of a bad situation,” he said.

Officers also might hand out items to children whose families are going through some tough economic times. They helped children at Christmas through the “Shop with a Cop” program.

“Right after Christmas, we started accumulating and storing toys and things to give children,” Lanich said.
The Brownies’ toy drive will help with that effort.

“We’ll put some (toys) in circulation now with the officers to let them go ahead and give them out, but we may store some away for Christmas,” Lanich said.

At least two of the Brownies said they were excited about the event.

Cotton’s 8-year-old daughter, Tessa, said the Brownies are going to assign jobs for each member at the group’s next meeting.

And Abi Rubel, 9, who, like Tessa, is a third-grader at Flowery Branch Elementary School, said one thing she is especially looking forward to is “we get to play an extra hour.”

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