BUCKHANNON – It might not be Thanksgiving yet, but the gals of Girl Talk are already working to ensure that children in need have a good Christmas this year.
Upshur County’s girl empowerment group chose to participate in Operation Christmas Child as a service project. Operation Christmas Child is a project through Samaritan’s Purse, in which shoeboxes full of gifts and necessities are sent to countries in need.
“My family has personally done this for years,” said club advisor Tiffany Shaw. “And the girls actually voted on different community service projects, and this is the one they chose.”
Girl Talk is hosted at the Stockert Youth and Community Center and allows high school-aged girls to mentor middle-school tweens and teens about issues that affect young women.
Through the Operation Christmas Child project, Shaw said the girls will learn the meaning of truly giving back, but also how children in other countries are less fortunate.
“Our goal with this project is to reach outside of our community,” she said.
A few weeks ago, the girls went on a shopping spree at the Dollar General and picked up several goodies that will be gifted to boys and girls of all ages. The program suggests certain items to include in the boxes, such as a “wow” item like a stuffed animal or other small toys, hygienic items and school supplies.
Girl Talk leader Katherine Tenney, a junior at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, said her church has participated in Operation Christmas Child.
“We really like to do this because it’s giving back and it’s doing something good for people outside of our communities, so it’s not just for us, it’s for everybody else,” she said. “And that makes us feel good about ourselves, as well.”
Tenney and Reese Hutson, a freshman at B-UHS, said their mentorship with the middle schoolers has turned into a friendship and feels like “one big family.”
Tenney enjoys the conversations and discussion with the younger girls as the group talks about a variety of topics including bullying, self-image and feelings.
“I give them advice, and they also give me advice back,” Tenney said with a laugh. “Like, if I’m struggling with something they can usually help me with it … And everything just works out pretty good.”
The program includes girls from B-UHS and B-UMS, as well as several home-schooled students.
Danielle Shaw, a seventh-grader, said she enjoys Girl Talk because the discussions and friendships help her deal with middle school struggles.
Danielle said once she moves into high school, she would consider becoming a leader for Girl Talk.