Editor's note:This is the fifth in a series of stories featuring the 21 agencies that will receive funding from the Finney County United Way in 2013.



Amanda Hutchinson plans to be involved in Girl Scouts her whole life. The 16-year-old junior at Joy of Learning Academy wants to follow in her mother, Catherine's, footsteps and become a Girl Scout leader after being a scout.

"My mom was a leader, so I guess that's how I started," Amanda said.

She enjoys scouting and the projects and trips that go with it. She particularly likes camping.

In order to do those projects, go on trips and achieve badges, the Girl Scouts depend on annual money from the Finney County United Way. For 2013, the local chapter of the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland will receive $10,000 from United Way. The organization had asked for $15,000.

According to Chandra Lay, local membership, volunteer and program specialist, the $10,000 is the same amount of money the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland received the last two years.

The money will go toward scouts who need financial aid, events, camps and everyday functions, Lay said.

Amanda said it's rewarding to be in Girl Scouts. Her two favorite parts about the organization are the trips and participating in Girls Congress each year.

"We get to be the people making the decisions and planning things. It's a lot of fun," she said.

One of her favorite memories is the first year she went to Congress, where she met girls from all over the state.

"I just like meeting people. It makes me happy," she said.

Amanda has been a scout for 12 years, and what's kept her going in the organization is the fact that she gets to lead and make decisions.

"You get to be in charge and make decisions. You can lead younger girls," she said.

Amanda said the hard work is rewarding, and the projects fit the age groups.

"It's a lot of fun. A lot of times the older girls look at it and say it's kids' stuff. But it's not. It's fantastic for older girls. We get to do fun things like camping and crafts and whatever you want to work on. You learn a lot from being in Girl Scouts," she said.

Amanda has learned a lot about money management from cookie sales.

"Just from selling cookies, you have to know money and financing. You have to keep track of what you're getting and selling. We use percentages of the money to buy patches, go on trips or whatever we decide to do," she said.

Through years of volunteering, Catherine Hutchinson said, she's watched many girls turn into great leaders. She's been a troop leader for 20 years and leads cadets, seniors and ambassadors.

"I really enjoy watching girls realize their own potential and learn to be their own person," she said.

Being involved also can help with self-esteem, Catherine said.

"So many girls have low self-esteem. This definitely helps with that. There are so many opportunities to learn who they are and share that with younger girls and also with the community," she said.

They also develop senses of leadership, honesty and fairness, she said.

Lay, who has worked in her capacity since June, sees the same traits. She also said the organization offers a variety of ways to be involved with scouting.

"We've really expanded what we do to accommodate everyone's busy schedules," she said.

That includes being involved as much as the scout wants, or doing virtual scouting.

"But the best way to be involved is to be present," Lay said.

She said that this year, she would like to see the scouts out more at community events. They're already accomplishing that, Lay said.

"You're going to see them out in the community more, at events and helping," Lay said.

The Girl Scouts helped at the Tumbleweed Festival doing face painting, and on Saturday did sand art at a booth downtown at Fall Fest. This Saturday, they will be hosting a special event from noon to 4 p.m. called Autumn Art. The event is for daisys and brownies and will focus on the changing of the seasons.

And something different this year, Girl Scouts will have cookies on hand when they go door to door to sell.

"You'll be able to get your cookies right away," she said.

To find out more about The Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland, visit kansasgirlscouts.org. To find out more about local scouts, visit 114 Grant Ave., or call 276-7061.

The local United Way's annual campaign goal is $550,000 for 2013, the same as it has been for the last few years.

Additionally, the 21 partner agencies for the 2013 campaign are also the same as this year.

They include Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland, Miles of Smiles; Russell Child Development Center; Finney County RSVP; Kansas Children's Service League; Catholic Social Service; Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Program; Smart Start; Playground Program; Family Crisis Services; Spirit of the Plains, CASA; The Salvation Army; Meals on Wheels; Habitat for Humanity; Garden City Family YMCA; Garden City Chapter of the Red Cross; Santa Fe Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Community Day Care Center; United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries; United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney and Kearny Counties; and Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Program.