NORTH LIMA Two local Girl Scouts receive medals for putting their faith in action

The medals are offered through many religions and denominations.
NORTH LIMA -- Good deeds and hard work paid off for Sophia and Carlina DiRusso.
The sisters from North Lima who are South Range Middle School pupils, completed the "I Live My Faith" program and received medals for their efforts.
This is an official religious program of the Roman Catholic Church for girls who are enrolled in Girl Scouts, according to Janice DiRusso, their mother and Girl Scout troop leader.
DiRusso said the program has a format to follow.
"It came with weekly goals that we had to meet," she said. "Every week we did a different page. And then we elaborated on them, because what I wanted them to get out of it was helping people."
Doing for others: Sophia, 10, and Carlina, 9, wrote letters to the elderly, volunteered at their parish, St. Jude in Columbiana, and studied the Ten Commandments, visited a shrine and collected donations of money and toys for children less fortunate than themselves.
"It's important to service the community and service people," DiRusso said. "That's what Jesus did. He cared for everybody, so that's what I wanted them to learn out of it, more so than learning about prayer and about themselves. They learned how to help others."
Sophia said her favorite part was helping others because she liked knowing that those people were getting gifts and having a good Christmas, like she was.
After collecting toys and books from neighbors, the family donated them to the local Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley, DiRusso said.
"It was a very humbling experience for all of us," she said.
Sophia added, "Before, we didn't really think much about it, but now that we've been down there and we've seen it we probably should do it more."
There are eight in the troop, but only the DiRusso children took part.
Worked every Sunday: The girls worked on the project every Sunday morning for about 4 months, DiRusso said.
Carlina said, "I'm glad I did it. I liked helping others."
Sophia agreed. "Sometimes I just didn't want to do it but it was worth the work," she said. "It was more fun that I thought it would be."
DiRusso said, "I'm very proud of them because it did take time, on their day off. It was something that we did together, which was very nice. Because as much as you want to spend time with your kids you're always busy doing something. It made us all sit down together and work on this. We helped people and it helped us."
Religious awards are offered to girls from first grade and to the troop leaders and other adults in about 20 to 25 religions and denominations, according to Suzan Paczak, director of training/communications for Lake to River Girl Scout Council.
The faiths include Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism and Bah & aacute;' & iacute;. Awards and requirements differ depending on the age of the participants.
The programs are considered arms of the individual faiths and denominations because they prepare the material used by the youths or adults.
The reasoning for the religious spectrum available in the program is simple.
"We pride ourselves on being diverse," said Paczak.
Gone are the days when all the members of a troop would be of the same faith, she added.
"The motivational force in Girl Scouting is a spiritual one," she said. "We do not define that spirituality, but our promise says we believe in God."
Stresses values: Girl Scouting is a values-based program, Paczak said. The work to obtain the religious award helps reinforce the values taught in other aspects of the program. And for some youths who may come from troubles homes, it may be an introduction to some of those values.
The program is also offered to boys and girls in Camp Fire, Paczak said.
There are 8,800 youths in the four-county Girl Scout council, who are helped by about 3,500 adults.
Paczak said, "It's pretty significant when a girl gets the award because a lot of kids just don't want to go to that additional trouble."
Not all troops or faiths report when someone completes the medal program. Paczak estimated that a dozen children receive the award each year.