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Girl Scouts serve those who served their country


By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor 

  World War II veteran Cecil Hand, along with approximately 75 veterans and their spouses, dined on homemade soups and chili for the fourth annual Veteran’s Appreciation Dinner hosted by Girl Scout Troop 474 and Brownie Troop 11306 at the Hampton First Baptist Church on McDonough St. in Hampton.

Girl Scout Troop 474 and Brownie Troop 11306 served dinner for the fourth annual Veterans’ Appreciation Dinner.                                          Photo by Melissa Robinson

Pastor Jorge Gonzalez said the blessing and welcomed guests to the annual event. Gonzalez is also a U.S. Army veteran and was recognized by the newly formed American Legion Post 330, which began meeting at Hampton First Baptist Church this past spring.

  Bill Doke, Senior Vice Commander of Post 330, was glad to be a part of the evening to honor veterans.

  “This is great. The community getting together and these young people taking it upon themselves to have this dinner,” said Doke.

Doke said he and other Legion members invite any veteran or child of a veteran to join them the first Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at Hampton First Baptist for American Legion meetings.

  “The more members we have, the more we can do to support the community. We offer assistance with getting resources and help veterans navigate the VA system,” he said. “We are open to anyone who has served in the military or even if your mother or father served, you’re welcome.” 

  Veterans at the dinner spanned the generations and included men and women who served from World War II up through Operation Iraqi Freedom.

  Troop leader Stephanie Bodie said the girls spent several months planning the event, working to get donations, enlisting the help of parents and families and organizing the guest list.  They also spent a great deal of time preparing and rehearsing their songs and presentations.

  In addition to the soups and chili provided by the Girl Scout parents, veterans were treated to fresh bread and sweet tea donated by the Publix in Lovejoy, as well as a table full of homemade desserts. Girl Scouts fanned across the room serving baskets of bread and beverages, while veterans enjoyed the delicious food and fellowship.

  Sandra Jackson, an Army veteran, was invited by her granddaughter, Kamryn Silva, a six-year old Daisy in Girl Scout Troop 11306.

  Ted Rice, a Hampton resident and 20 year Army veteran, said he was honored to be at the dinner.

  “I loved the dinner and I’m really touched by all of this,” said Rice. “It’s really the first time someone has said welcome.”

  It was the first time Rice attended the dinner and was invited by Pastor Gonzalez.

  Mike Pope, a Navy veteran who served from 1967 to 1970, has been attending the Veterans dinner for the past four years. Accompanied by his wife, Cathy, he said he wouldn’t miss it for anything.

  “It’s really sweet and these girls are wonderful. They work so hard and do a great job,” said Pope.

 Bodie, along with co-leader Nicole Mendizabal, has been involved with Troop 474 for the past six years. Leaders for the younger group, Troop 11306, are Erin Stozstill and Nicole Silva.  Both troops meet at the Hampton church.

  Members of the American Legion presented the girls with certificates of appreciation for their service and efforts on behalf of local veterans.

  “We have always instilled how important it is to take care of our veterans and the girls run with it. They come up with great ideas and we just support them,” said Bodie.

  She said the girls perform several service projects throughout the year, one that includes sending boxes of Girl Scout cookies to service men and women overseas.

  Earlier this year, we sent approximately 100 to 150 boxes of Girl Scout cookies,” she said. “The soldiers tell us how much they appreciate them.”

  For more information on Girl Scout Troop 474 or Brownie Troop 11306, contact Bodie at For more information on American Legion Post 330, contact Doke at 770-897-9151 or visit



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