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Girl Scout helps tornado victims

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Published:   |   Updated: August 3, 2013 at 08:09 PM

LUTZ - When Girl Scout Sarah Lucker accompanied her church group to New Orleans in June, the 16-year-old saw firsthand how long it takes to recover from a catastrophe such as Hurricane Katrina.

Her experience sparked the idea for a Gold Award project, Girl Scouting's highest achievement. The longtime Scout turned her thoughts toward the youngest students in Moore, Okla., the Oklahoma City suburb struck by an EF5 tornado on May 20.

"I wanted to do something to help. I felt really bad," said the Lutz resident who has followed news reports of the devastation in that Midwestern city.

"If more people start helping when these storms first hit, we can make a bigger impact and the devastation won't be as bad," she decided, focusing her project on the smallest victims. I really wanted to help the kids, because when you're a kid you don't really understand what's happening."

Thinking of the children of Moore preparing to return to school, she telephoned a guidance counselor in that city and asked about their needs. What would help facilitate the young students' return to normalcy?

From the counselor's recommendations, she created a list of supplies the city's two elementary schools need.

With help from her parents, Jim and Sandy Lucker, their family-owned air-conditioning business and the Carrollwood Area Business Association, Sarah was able to place school-supply collection boxes at a half-dozen sites.

Sarah, who will be a junior in Hillsborough High School's International Baccalaureate program next month, said her collection boxes will remain in place until Aug. 22. The donated supplies then will be sent to Oklahoma, with Air Doctor Air Conditioning paying the postage.

The member of Van Dyke United Methodist Church and Troop 641 in Lutz has been involved in Scouting since she was a second-grader in Fort Lauderdale. She has earned Scouting's Silver and Bronze awards, and is optimistic about this seven-step take-action project that challenges high school-age Girl Scouts to change the world - or at least their corner of it.

"I have a box at each site," she said "I was hoping we can fill them all."

gwilkens@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7124

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