Even After Vandalism, No Stopping Girl Scouts

March 10, 2019
Julie Becker, left, and Emily Benoit in front of the spot where one of their duck feeders was located at Coggshall Park in Fitchburg. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JON WINKLER Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

FITCHBURG -- After a bird feeder machine two Girl Scouts installed for their Silver Award project at Coggshall Park was damaged last month, community members have rallied to help repair it.

“Between donations and fundraising, we should have enough,” said Laurie Becker, leader of junior Troop 30862 based in Rutland.

About two weeks ago, the Fitchburg native went to Coggshall Park to refill the coin-operated bird feeder and found it damaged and that money was missing.

Becker knew something was wrong when the kiosk moved because it had been mounted on a wooden structure. The kiosk, which contains seed to feed ducks and other birds, was installed near the lake and took quarters.

“The girls worked so hard on it,” she said. “They haven’t even submitted the paperwork for the award yet, but Girl Scouts is being considerate and will let them receive their award.”

Despite that, the two 13-year-old cadettes -- one of whom is Becker’s daughter -- are determined to repair the feeder and install more, Becker said.

The girls installed the kiosk in the fall for their Silver Award project to educate the public to switch to seed to feed ducks instead of bread.

“Bread is bad for us birds!” a sign attached to the damaged feeder says.

It can give ducks diseases, isn’t nutritious, and makes them depend on humans, the sign says. Bread also pollutes the lake’s water and can be harmful to other wildlife.

The Silver Award is the second highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Her daughter’s best friend came up with the idea for the project, Becker said.

Becker’s husband helped them build the wood structure that housed the feeder that stood by the water near the flag pole, she said.

To help prevent vandalism from happening again, Becker met with the Friends of Coggshall Park, the nonprofit that helps maintain it, and received permission for the cadettes to install two feeders inside the Stone House, she said.

Money from the fundraisers will also go to installing signs that tell people that the feeders are inside, Becker said.

Her cousin, Tiffany Floria, set up a fundraiser on Facebook the day that Becker discovered the damaged feeder.

Eleven people donated money to reach the $200 goal.

Floria, who was saddened to see the feeder vandalized, said Tuesday that all the money will go to repair it.

The troop held a bottle and can drive and bake sale Saturday in the parking lot of the Knights of Columbus on Electric Avenue.

Becker said the goal for the weekend was to raise $150.

If they came up short, there were tentative plans for another bake sale in Rutland.

“One way or another, we’re going to get it done,” she said.

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