GATLINBURG

Smoky Shadows Service Unit Girl Scouts and Gatlinburg Girl Scout Troop 20648 came together to decorate a tree for Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees.

Smoky Shadows Service Unit Girl Scouts gathered on Nov. 20 to create and decorate Christmas tree ornaments. Gatlinburg Girl Scout Troop 20648 then took the ornaments and decorated a tree at the Festival of Trees in Gatlinburg.

“It’s good to see the girls do things besides selling cookies. There is more to it than that. It’s building character. It’s helping girls find their voice. It’s about sisters,” said Delea Patterson, service unit co-manager and Gatlinburg’s Troop co-leader.

The Festival of Trees is going on now through Sunday, Nov. 28, and features elaborate Christmas trees and decorations, visits with Santa, and take-home crafts for the children from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28. The event is at the W. L. Mills Conference Center at stoplight #8, Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg. Proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains and the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

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The original theme was Arctic Animals, but the girls in the troop wanted more variety in what they could create, Patterson said. The theme then changed to cold weather animals. Girls from seven different troops were able to participate in this event and they had enough supplies for each girl to create their own ornament.

Besides decorating a tree for the festival, the troops will hold a Christmas party. At the party, the girls will paint rocks to donate to the Isaiah 117 House for a rock garden. Isaiah 117 House is a program that provides support and shelter for children awaiting a foster home.

Another troop is planning a father-daughter dance, accepting donations for the Isaiah 117 House.

“My troop is very much community service. We enjoy flag ceremonies and helping out,” Patterson said.

Along with holiday events, these troops also participate in community events and projects. Girls from Patterson’s troop are currently working on an engineering journey, where they will put together STEM kits for school.

The Girl Scouts Troops continue to build young, confident girls through outreach programs and social events. They continue to grow and strive everyday, Patterson said.