Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Smriti and Read2Succeed2012

Smriti, a sophomore at West Windsor Plainsboro High School South, has recently earned the Girl Scouts Gold Award, the highest award for Girl Scouts. Her project, Read2Succeed2012, involved running a book drive and expanding the classroom reading books into a library at Habitat for Humanity’s after school program run by Kiya Green. In addition, she built new bookshelves, made the library cozier and also made it possible for kids to check out books from their library. She also did a workshop with the kids, where she read to them and did a craft based on a Dr. Seuss book with them.

“I’ve always been in love with books. Libraries were a huge part of my life,” Smriti says, “I remember this one summer where I went to the library, checked out about 10 novels every single day and then stayed up until 4 a.m. reading all of them so that I could go to the library again the next day. I was always so blessed to have access to libraries that were so well-stocked. It bothered me that many kids didn’t have access to the same facilities that I did. I wanted to change that.”

She started her book drive over the past summer. Her mother, Shashi, recalls, “The neighbors were really generous. We’d be gone for an hour, and when we came home, there would be a box of books near the front door. People we’d never met would call us and tell us that they had books for us. We received new books at least once a week.” In the end, Smriti received close to 500 books from the community.

After the book drive, she began creating book shelves. “I knew that it would be hard to make the shelves myself, but I had no idea exactly how challenging it was going to be,” she admits, “It’s so much more than just tapping a hammer against a nail. It’s designing, planning, and creating. But I’m so glad I didn’t give up and just buy them. I was so proud of myself after the final coat of paint dried.”

“I’m incredibly thankful to the community for everything they’ve done for me,” Smriti says, “And to my troop leader and advisor, Louisa Ho, for not only putting me in touch with Kiya and her program, but also for correcting the million drafts of the paperwork I emailed her. My mentor, Kiya, was also incredible. She did a lot of juggling with schedules for me. I’m so thankful to the kids, as well. They were so sweet and so upbeat when I met them. I’m also really grateful to my parents for not kicking me out of the house when I walked into the house with more paint on my face than on the wood.”

In addition to Girl Scouts, Smriti enjoys singing, both chorally and vocally, as well as playing the piano. She has been dancing for close to 11 years. In her spare time, she tutors kids who need help in school.

Advice for Girl Scouts: "I would advise them to work on something that they're passionate about and to take the opportunity to learn things about the world around them."

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