Harrisburg Brownie troop helps spread Christmas cheer

By Christie Barlow
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Christmas brought something a little different to residents at Carillon Assisted Living this year.

Instead of the traditional calling birds and French hens, residents were treated to 12 silly brownies and a vest to sow patches on.
A Harrisburg Brownie troop spent Thursday night serenading the residents of Carillon with Christmas songs, including their own take on classic “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

“We’re doing it in hopes of spreading some Christmas fun,” said Lisa Schrek, one of the troop leaders. “I’m hoping they’ll have fun singing Christmas carols with the residents.”

The troop, which holds its regular meetings at Carillon, came up with the idea when discussing ideas for their Christmas service project. With help from leaders Schrek and Kristina Gray, the girls planned the majority of the activity themselves.

“We try to let them do as much of the planning as they can,” Schrek said.

“The Brownies and the whole Girl Scout organization is to help the girls be girls of courage, character and confidence,” Gray said. “The character part comes in with service projects and putting the needs of others in front of their own. They know a lot of these residents don’t have a lot of family close by. They might be the only people these folks see (at Christmas).”

In addition to planning the event, Gray, Schrek and the Brownies talked about what their performance might mean to the residents and prepared candy cane decorations as gifts for the residents.

The girls, largely made up of first graders, seem to have a good understanding of why they came to sing, Gray said.
“The girls were so excited to make the candy canes knowing they were giving them away,” Gray said. “They may not get it completely, but they know it’s about doing something nice for others and making them feel good.”

The Brownies weren’t the only ones excited to sing. Many of the residents joined in and sang along with the girls.

The residents are always happy to see the girls when they come in, said Judy Snowden, the marketing director at Carillon.
Snowden said that the girls’ care and concern for the residents is especially appreciated during the holidays.

The Brownie troop regularly includes the residents in things they do.

The effects are twofold, and both the residents and the Brownies benefit from the relationship. For the Brownies, those who have lost grandparents or never knew them get that interaction back, and the residents get to feel like someone cares, Snowden said.

“They enjoy anybody visiting, especially children,” Snowden said. “They get so much joy out of seeing the little girls sing. A lot of them don’t have a lot of family to visit. It really makes them feel like somebody cares and they don’t have to dwell on themselves. It lets them enjoy the holiday.”

• Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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