At their meeting last week, Girl Scouts (from left) Isabel Parker, Camryn McMillan, Madison Stiles, Taylor Ivester and Taylor Hardin donated money to Cathy Harquail and Brittany Black for the Valley River Humane Society.Martins Creek’s Madison Munz, Alyssa Kaufman and Carson Phillips (from left) work together on their plan during a practice robot run at the state tournament.

SCOUTING AROUND: Girl Scouts donate returned funds to animals

   What would you do if someone handed back your payment? When presented with the opportunity, Murphy’s Girl Scout Troop 2681 paid it forward.
   The Scouts were learning how to make crafts with pottery, which allowed them to earn a pottery fun patch and have Christmas gifts for their parents. They paid the artist for the materials and for teaching them.
   However, when their leader, Charlene Davidson, picked up the finished crafts, the artist gave her back the check. He said he had a good year and was happy to see how interested the girls were in learning.
   After Davidson told the troop what happened, they decided to donate the money to the Valley River Humane Society in Marble instead of keeping it.
   “Their ideas of giving are always amazing,” Davidson said. “They are so full of love and kindness. They want to do so much more. At their age, it is hard because they have to be with an adult, and for good reasons.”
   Davidson said she is always telling people how Scouts can help, whether it’s painting, gardening or pet sitting. Two volunteers from the humane society visited the troop meeting last week to accept the check and talk with Scouts about how they can donate their time by walking dogs or bonding with animals at the shelter.

Center to help homeless
   Starting Monday, there is a new center to provide services to those in need. The Cherokee County Community Day Center is a partnership of agencies and churches to provide services to the homeless, vulnerable and destitute.
   Initially, the center will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays in the fellowship hall at Murphy First Baptist Church on Hiawassee Street at U.S. 64 West. The center will provide meals, showers and job-finding assistance, but also plans to offer more as needed.
   “We wanted to have the opportunity to talk to people and find out what they actually need,” said Nancy Chastain, spokesperson for the center.
   Chastain said the idea started when Sheriff Derrick Palmer shared conversations he had with people in need of services. He said the drug epidemic is not a law enforcement issue, but a community issue.
   “I spent many days and nights sitting on a guard rail or in a jail cell with persons who were addicted, and talked to them about what we could do as a community to help them beat their addiction,” Palmer said.
   “I found several people who were drug addicted that wanted to be clean and was currently trying to do so. They were actively seeking jobs and attending counseling, but could not get over the hump that held them to their addiction.
   “I found out that transportation was a huge issue, along with the fact that most of them were homeless. A combination of not having reliable transportation and nowhere to bathe or clean what few clothes they had prevented employers from hiring them or making their scheduled mental health and drug counseling appointments.”
   They thought a central location, where people could access a variety of services, could help.
   Chastain said many people, churches and agencies have offered to help with the center. Murphy First Baptist was chosen for the temporary location because its facilities include showers, and the church already provides lunches on Mondays.
   Having come from a mental health background as well as serving as board president of the homeless shelter, Chastain understands the need of having a place where all the organizations and agencies are working together, and showing what they can provide to improve conditions for people.
   “To me, this is very exciting because I would have people come to my office, and I would have no one to link them to,” she said. “This is an opportunity to bring everyone to the table, and get more people to the table.”
   She said anyone in need of any of the services being provided may take advantage of the center. Anyone wishing to help should email Chastain at

Martins Creek competes at state
   Martins Creek Elementary/Middle School’s robotics team, Chaotic Robotic, competed in the N.C. First Lego League State Championship at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro on Jan. 20.
   The team of three fifth-graders and two sixth-graders faced three oral presentation judging sessions in the morning followed by three robot performance runs in the evening. Overall, the team finished 39th out of 58 teams.
   Martins Creek was fortunate to be able to gather their team and attend the competition while out of school due to inclement weather. Two teams that qualified for the competition did not make it to the state tournament due to weather, according to Fiona Last-Powell, senior mentor for FIRST North Carolina, which organizes the competition. One of those schools was Murphy Middle School.
   Martins Creek’s team was Emma Muniz, Madison Munz, Carson Phillips, Taylor Burt and Alyssa Kaufman. Connor Savugot, an eighth-grader, served as the team mentor. The coaches were Amy Morin and Chad Brooks.
   “Our students have learned that we are always part of a team and that, whatever we do in life, individual skills are best used as a part of a team effort,” Brooks said. “This team has found out that, even though others may have different skills or points of view, including and working with those around us helps us grow both as individuals and as a group.
   “Being at the state tournament reinforced this for our team. Our students showed a lot of good teamwork throughout, and saw a lot of examples of these values from other teams as well.”
   The team thanked Travis Chastain, who drove the bus to and from the tournament, as well as Bryan Phillips, a team volunteer.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email,; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.