On her way to Silver

Cadette Girl Scout Molesha Perkins finds time to give back and collect items for those in need

Girl Scout Cadette Molesha Perkins, center, donates hygiene items to Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy. With her are Shanda Haynes, left, a kindergarten teacher at Duval, and former Principal Donna Jones, the newly appointed director of secondary curriculum for Alachua County Public Schools. (Special to the Guardian)

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.

Whoever said teens are self-centered, does not know Molesha Perkins, a 13-year-old who is donating her time and efforts to help children in east Gainesville.

In fact, her Girl Scout Silver Award project is about helping children, which she does by volunteering in the Alachua County VPK program at Fearnside Family Services Center and in Sunday school classes for toddlers and elementary school-age children at Springhill Baptist Church, where she is a member, and by conducting a personal hygiene drive for students at Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy.

"I wanted to do something for the children of east Gainesville," said Molesha, a rising ninth-grader who will be in the Early Childhood Education program this fall at the Professional Academies @ Loften High School. Molesha also is a Cadette in Girl Scouts of Gateway Council Troop 195, which meets at First United Methodist Church in downtown Gainesville.

Last fall, Molesha began working on her Silver Award project, and now she is about four hours short of the minimum 50 community service hours required to complete the project.

While a student at Hoggetowne Middle School in east Gainesville last school year, Molesha volunteered for about 30 minutes each morning — her schedule permitting — at Fearnside before school began at 8:15 a.m. at Hoggetowne.

In May, Molesha conducted a personal hygiene drive to benefit her former school, Duval Elementary. She collected three boxes of hygiene products, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, hair supplies, deodorant, female hygiene products, hand sanitizer and other items. Molesha is planning to do another personal hygiene drive in August to benefit Rawlings Elementary School.

Shanda Haynes, a kindergarten teacher at Duval, said the hygiene donations have made a difference for families in need at Duval. She said Duval families who are having difficult times financially know they can come to the school for help.

"She is kind, concerned and hardworking," Haynes said. "She is a model student and a model citizen. She's very humble and really wanted to do something to help."

Molesha also is a very busy teen. She is active in the Santa Fe College Center of Excellence National Achievers Society, or NAS, formerly known as the McKnight Achievers.

NAS is a college track program for "A-B" honor roll students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Molesha has participated in the NAS brain bowl competitions and has served as co-captain of her team. Molesha also was a member of the Hoggetowne drama and theater clubs and has competed in regional competitions. She also was a member of the Star Center Children's Theatre, founded by Rhonda Wilson, a drama teacher at Duval, and she participates in youth activities at Springhill Church.

Molesha has plans to become a pediatrician. She said enrolling in the Early Childhood Education program at Loften will provide her with the experience she will need as a pediatrician.

"I like working with kids and I can get used to kids at an early age," Molesha said.

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