A young Benton resident is making it easier for the community to read, and earned “The Gold” for doing so.
Benton High Junior Samantha Hartung has done something only 5.4% of Girl Scouts ever do. She earned the highest award – the Girl Scout Gold. This requires at least 80 hours of service work and Hartung recently completed her service by working with Benton Parks and Recreation on a project.
One of the requirements for the Gold Award is project sustainability. It is an important piece of the Girls Scouts to ensure that these projects continue to serve the community. Gold Award recipients are eligible to apply for a $10,000 college scholarship.
For Samantha’s project, she chose to refurbish old metal newspaper boxes to create Lending Libraries within the local parks. “My goal was to create more access and opportunities to books for those who may not have the ability to get to public libraries. The purpose of the libraries is to take or leave books at any location.” Said Hartung.
Samantha was able to acquire a donation from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette for seven newspaper boxes. From there, her project kickstarted in June of 2022. She worked on cleaning the exterior and interior of the boxes, removing stickers and residue, and finished with a few coats of paint. She then worked with Magna IV and Benton Parks and Recreation to create the informational stickers for the new Lending Libraries. Samantha also held a book drive in September and had other books donated to her to supply the boxes.
In July of 2022 Samantha was able to present her final project to City Council for approval. “Sam did an excellent job presenting to Council.” Said Stephanie Jones, Director of Parks and Recreation. “It was one of the best presentations I have seen from a student. She has worked hard to complete her award and is very deserving of the recognition.”
“I would like to thank the Benton Parks and Recreation Department for helping me install the boxes and for the use of their properties.” Said Hartung. “Also, the Benton Mayor’s Youth Council for the commitment to continue my project and my Girl Scout Leaders for being by my side and guiding me along the way. I would also like to thank the Arkansas Democrat Gazette for donating the seven newspaper boxes I used in my project, and the City of Benton for giving me permission to install my boxes and contributing to my September book drive. Without all of you none of this would have been possible.”
Be on the lookout for bright orange boxes at Ralph Bunche Park, Tyndall Park, Sunset Lake, the River Center and the Boys and Girls Club in Benton.