Taking it to the next level: Girl Scout earns Gold Award by making blankets

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Tori Manning, center, works to cut and prepare blankets that will be given to children at Family Promise of Grayson County.  Manning made the blankets as a part of her gold award project for the scouts.

A Sherman Girl Scout is giving back to children in need as one of her final projects in the organization. Tori Manning took  some of the final steps in achieving her Gold Award with the Girl Scouts this week she she delivered a collection of blankets to Family Promise of Grayson County

The gold award represents one of the  highest awards in Girl Scouts and one of the final awards one can receive before aging out of the organization. The award is similar in scope to the Eagle Scout award offered by the Boy Scouts of America.

"It's the final award you receive in the girl scouts," Manning said. "You have to put in a certain amount of hours and all of your projects need to benefit the community."

The gold award is the third in a series of progressing projects that are traditionally undertaken by  scouts nearing the end of their scouting career. Each step — bronze, silver and gold — progressively requires more time and commitment to achieve.

For her first two awards, Manning focused on projects around her church, including planters and a sensory path around the exterior of the building. However, Manning elected to give to kids in need in the community in her final project.

Over the past year, Manning, and about 25 friends and family crafted 140 blankets for the children going through Family Promise of Grayson County. The group offers services and assistance to homeless families across the region. In some cases, children will spend days at the organization while their parents try to get back on their feet.

"Knowing the kids that come through must be scared and don't have a lot, I wanted to give them something that was a comfort item that they would get to keep and make their own," she said.

Manning said the experiences that the children are going through reminded her of when she went to the hospital at age nine with an ovarian cyst. Manning said she scared, but found comfort in a blanket that was give to her.

The blanket I had just helped me," she said. "Obviously, I had my parents that were there for me for everything, but it was nice to have something there to hold onto and keep with me."

Manning said she was able to keep the blanket with her as comfort item all the way until she was taken into surgery. 

Beyond the physical comfort, Manning said the blanket served as a mental comfort and a reminder that others before her had been in the same position.

"I knew that I wasn't alone," she said. "Other kids had done this before me."

The gold award is relatively rare for girl scouts in part because so few stay with the organization through their high school years, Manning said. While she had assistance from her troop during her bronze award project, the group began to disband during the silver award. Since then, she has found a new troop for her final year.

"It is very rare to see girls stay in the Girl Scouts all the way to their senior year. From my original troop of maybe 20, I am the only one left," she said.

Manning said it felt good to complete the project and give back to the community. However, knowing she was at the end of her scouting career has brought mixed emotions.

"(It is) definitely bittersweet," she said. "I have enjoyed my time as a girl scout, and it is sad to say goodbye, but I am glad I have gotten to help so many people."