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Girl Scouts raise funds for Millwood pool

Monday afternoons are busy at the Porter house.

That’s when members of Girl Scout Troop 2436 meet to work on their biggest project to date – raising money to save the Millwood City Park wading pool.

On a recent afternoon in March, Mariah Bechtel, 18, and Victoria Harding, 19, wrote thank-you letters to area donors; Emma Porter, 14, created a small poster on the computer for an upcoming penny drive; and Jaida Hanson, 12, stood at the kitchen cupboard drawing posters to display at the cookie sale booths.

The girls have been meeting for more than three years, usually twice a month for their regular meetings. In January they began meeting weekly to work on the pool project.

“It’s a lot of fun to see how far we’ve gotten,” Emma Porter said.

The city’s 24-foot pool, built in 1954, was scheduled for demolition last spring because of a city budget shortfall. The Millwood City Council later committed to operate the pool, if the community could raise $10,000 by the end of the year. The funds are needed to resurface and repair the pool.

“The girls grew up with the Millwood wading pool,” troop leader Vicki Porter said. “It’s worth saving.”

In addition to doing their part to save a landmark, the four girls are trying to earn their Silver Award.

“It was really neat that Jaida and Emma wanted to do the award as a group so Mariah and Victoria would be able to get their award too,” Porter said. Mariah and Victoria both are developmentally delayed.

The Girl Scouts have specific criteria to earn the award such as being a community-based project, and be sustainable.

“It’s the highest award a cadette scout can earn,” Porter said. “Each girl has to work at least 45 hours apiece; we’ll do that easy. All the planning, letter writing and booths, it all adds up real fast.”

Before starting the project, the girls approached the Millwood City Council in October to make sure the pool would be maintained if they raised the money. The Council assured the troop the city would maintain the pool after the repairs have been made.

At that meeting, the girls learned that Inland Empire Paper Co. was matching business donations up to $1,000. This gave them the idea to target businesses. Inland Empire Paper is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

The Scouts decided to donate $500 from their cookie sale proceeds and then solicit matching donations from area businesses, organizations and elementary school parent-teacher organizations. So far, they have commitments for up to $1,500 in matching funds.

“Everybody has been so kind and so giving,” Porter said. “It’s just been wonderful.”

The troop kicked off its annual cookie booth sale March 23 at Yoke’s in Argonne Village. During the three-hour event, the troop sold 113 boxes of cookies, and raised more than $620 to save the pool. Porter attributes the success of the sale to raising money for the pool.

“It was the most cookies we sold at a booth sale,” Porter said. “Typically we sell 50 to 70 boxes.”

Along with cookie sales, the funds came from donations for the pool, including more than $500 from an unidentified man who Porter describes as the troop’s guardian angel.

“He came back three times,” Porter said. “Each time with more money.”

On Friday, the troop plans to set up a booth during First Night Millwood at the Millwood Art Gallery. All proceeds from the night’s event will go to the pool.

The troop also will go door-to-door asking area businesses for a matched donation this month.

As of March, the Spokane Parks Foundation website has tallied more than $4,500 beyond what the troop has raised. This has been brought in by groups and individuals supporting the pool. The troop hopes to raise the remaining $5,500 balance by May 1.

“We’re going for the gusto,” Porter said. “We’re going to raise as much money as we can.”