BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Danielle Czarkowski, from Bridgewater-Raritan Girl Scout Troop 61254, earned her Gold Award, the highest award in all of Girl Scouting.

To earn the Gold Award, a Scout must use her leadership skills to organize and complete a sustainable community service project consisting of over 80 hours.

Czarkowski’s project, entitled “Clear Your Gear: a new and used sports equipment drive,” revolved around helping disadvantaged children.

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“No child should be held back from sports because they don’t have the money or the equipment," Czarkowski said.

She collected, cleaned, sorted, inventoried and packed sports equipment to donate to children, and, along with her family and four friends, drove a total of 25 hours round trip to deliver the donated equipment to a rec center in West Virginia, where many families live below poverty level.

The collection was a huge success with 2,801 items donated in total, including baseball equipment, golf clubs, an air hockey table, an elliptical machine and scooters. 

Because of the overwhelming response, the equipment was also shared with several local schools and youth centers. In addition, each child was able to take home seven items. 

Czarkowski also led her friends in a sports clinic at the rec center, teaching children how to play lacrosse, which they had never heard of before. Czarkowski and her team also helped the children improve their skills in soccer, football, basketball and baseball, but most especially taught them the importance of wearing a helmet when using the donated skates and scooters.

Czarkowski spent a total of 202 individual hours and over 900 team hours on her project.

Czarkowski was extremely grateful to have help from two local business sponsors, Wegmans of Bridgewater, which donated all the snacks for the clinic, and Artisan Tile & Marble Co. of NJ, which donated the rental truck and hotel accommodations.