The township’s Brownie Troop 20002 will collect toys for the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department toy drive during the Lions Club holiday parade on Dec. 3.
All donations will be sent to organizations that include Delaware House Health Services, Foster and Adoptive Family Services and Servicios Latinos, among others.
“The girls wanted to do something to help others, and they liked the idea of collecting toys, because they wanted to make sure that all kids were receiving toys for the holidays,” said Melissa Lestini, the troop’s co-leader.
In conjunction with the parade’s theme, Disney on parade, troop members will dress up as dwarfs from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
“The girls have each chosen their own dwarf name, which embodies something about them, their personality or something that they’re proud of, and that’s on a rainbow-colored shirt,” Lestini explained.
The troop collected more than 50 toys for families at last year’s parade and recently delivered donations to the food pantry at First Baptist Church of Moorestown.
“They’re really focused on community service and more philanthropy-related projects for the year, so the food drive was the first big endeavor that we undertook,” she added.
Throughout the year, the Brownies color drawings for Color A Smile, a nonprofit that distributes cheerful drawings to senior citizens, troops overseas and anyone in need of a smile.
“The girls themselves, they’re such caring, kind individuals, and they all have that helping and giving mindset, so they get really excited about this,” Lestini noted.
Future troop activities include a service project for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and making Valentine’s Day cards at the township library.
“It really helps them to feel empowered, serving as a meaningful part of the community, and not marginalized into ‘kid-ness,’ where they really feel like what they’re doing matters and they truly are helping,” Lestini said.
Troop 20002 got its start during COVID, but Lestini and co-troop leader Erin Cangelosi are proud of how far the Brownies have come.
“Our goal was to provide the girls and the troop (with) a very positive activity where they still could connect with their fellow Brownie members during a very abnormal time,” Lestini pointed out.
“ … The girls, as they’ve matured, have also been able to really direct the troop’s goals and mission, and this year, their focus is on serving the community and giving back to the community.”
All troop members are students at Moorestown schools, which Lestini maintained gives the troop a special touch.
“It’s great just to see how they interact with each other and how much they enjoy being together,” she said. “Especially when they’re together accomplishing something and working well together as a group to make things happen.”