December 5, 2021

Girl Scout takes on project in Freeville

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Laura Krebs of Freeville redesigned the upstairs nursery at Freeville United Methodist Church so she could make a clothing closet in another room.

FREEVILLE — Painting a room doesn’t seem like much of a challenge for Laura Krebs. But for the 18-year-old Freeville woman: “It was a whole new experience.”

The Dryden High School graduate made a deal with the Freeville United Methodist Church — she’d revamp its nursery on the second floor if she could make a clothing giveaway closet for the community on its first floor.

Krebs is a Girl Scout, an ambassador, its highest level, in Girl Scout Troop 40516 that meets in Freeville.

She just completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project — comparable to the Boy Scouts Eagle Award —creating The Second Chance Closet at the 39 Main St. church. The closet has clothing, shoes, sweaters, knickknacks and more, free to the community.

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Mugs at the Second Chances Closet.

“Everyone that comes in can take whatever they want, as much as they want. We ask that people don’t take more than they need, so others who have a need can take advantage of the closet, as well,” Krebs said. “I volunteer in the smaller clothing shed at the Dryden Presbyterian Church.”

The Dryden church gives away clothing, as well as food, at the same time. She wanted to do the same in Freeville. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her plans changed.

“It’s open to anyone who wants to come here. There’s a TCAT bus stop right outside,” Krebs said.

And nearby elementary students who need cold-weather clothes can access the closet as well.

Krebs put together clothing racks, building two metal racks herself, and set up book cases for the project. Her mom’s friend, Chris Barley, donated $500 for the $800 project. Girl Scout cookie funds put in the other $300.

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Laura Krebs made a clothing closet for her Girl Scout Gold Award community service project. People need only to call the Freeville United Methodist Church to make an appointment.

She moved toys and furniture into the upstairs nursery, which she cleaned and painted a brighter yellow. She installed a safety gate and net to keep children safe. She also equipped the nursery with a fire alarm and fire extinguisher and a hand rail for the stairs.

She had to get church Board of Trustees approval. Trustee Susan Eggleston of Groton was her liaison with church members.

“It is amazing,” Eggleston said. “It will benefit a lot of people. There’s definitely a need for the secondhand used clothing and household items.”

“I wanted to center my project around sustainability, so I thought this was also a great way to reuse old clothes and items instead of throwing them away,” said Krebs, who is attending Rochester Institute of Technology for sustainable electrical engineering.

Her brother Matthew, 20, her parents, Jim and Arlene, Larry Allen and troopmate Eryn Woernley helped her. Callie Tenkate put in duty in the upstairs room and Eggleston helped with painting and cleanup.

“I was planning to have more volunteers come in, but with COVID, I kept it with family and friends,” Krebs said.

“You have to do 80 hours of community service,” Krebs said for the project, which has to be long lasting. “It just can’t be like a food giveaway, one time, or ‘here is money.’ It has to be something which would serve on past you.”

Krebs, a life guard at the Groton pool, has been a Girl Scout since the first grade. She and Woernley are the remaining two ambassadors from the group of 30 or 40 brownies they started out with.

“We meet wherever we can … we meet at Dunkin’,” she said.

Tracey Bachner and Denise Woernley are the troop leaders.

“I learned a lot — to work with people,” Krebs said. “And to communicate with people what I want and what I don’t want. And friends. I have made great friends, with Eryn and other girls in my troop.”

“I think it’s awesome,” said the Rev. Penny Sutterby, the new pastor at the church. “Laura and Eryn Woernley have done a magnificent job … The work that has gone into it is amazing — the care and coordination.”

Some of the clothing and items were on hand from a clothing closet the church used to have, but has been inactive. People also donated to the closet, which sought lightly used clean items.

“Currently, we are not accepting donations. We have so much,” Krebs said.

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Shoes a plenty at Second Chances Closet in the Freeville United Methodist Church.

Nationally, only about 5 percent of Girl Scout seniors and ambassadors earn the Gold Award, said Jaime Alvarez, senior director of marketing and communications with Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways. Gold Award honorees will be recognized in a dinner and ceremony, perhaps in February.

Krebs has finalized her Gold Award paperwork and is happy with the project.

“I think it turned out just the way I wanted it to. Upstairs is the way I wanted,” she said. “The only thing I would change is having more hanging racks than bookshelves.”