CHRISTMAS CAROLS echoed through the halls of Bethany Care Center in Westminster last week as members of the STARS Club entertained residents. They sang because this is the season of giving, but this group's dedication to service is year-round.
Officially called GFWC -- General Federation of Women's Clubs -- STARS Juniorette Club of Westminster, the group was started in 1994, under the auspices of Babs J. Condon, who remembered the days when most girls volunteered at a hospital or joined the Girl Scouts or a service organization.
"Now there are so many adults out there who don't think of doing volunteer work. Their children are not used to doing it," Condon said.
Many teens in the county were probably having a hard time performing the mandatory 75 hours of service required before high school graduation, Condon said, and she knew she could make a difference.
She was used to working with teens in the local young gardeners' club and is active in the GFWC Junior Women's Club of Westminster.
Starting a Juniorette Club that had service as a top priority made sense, so she organized the STARS (Students Target and Achieve Requirements in Service), a nonprofit volunteer service club.
Fourteen girls, ranging in age from 11 to 16, meet twice a month, rotating meetings among the girls' homes.
The list of projects the group has tackled is lengthy, and the girls have helped people in Carroll County and abroad. Members have worked at Westminster's Fallfest and Halloween parade, earned money to send dentists to Third World countries, and created and distributed hundreds of bookmarks for People Against Child Abuse.
They have also adopted animals at the zoo, read stories for a cable television show and planted flowers at Belgrove Square in Westminster. Many club members have performed more than 400 hours of community service. From one service project to the next, the girls have fun; and that is what keeps them coming back to the group each year.
"We do a lot of fun things, and it gives me confidence when I help people out," said Amanda Boyer, a junior at Westminster High School. "Babs doesn't run the club, the girls do. Each year we have a new president. We definitely learn leadership skills too."
Condon said, "I know the girls are learning things like how to make a motion during a meeting, how to second it and then call for discussion.
"These leadership skills will be with them all through life. The group gets them back into the volunteering habit, and, hopefully, they will join another service club as adults."
The STARS Club meets from 1: 30 p.m. to 3: 30 p.m. the second and third Sundays of the month. Information: Condon, 410-848-4171.
Cat's 40th birthday
Members of the GFWC Junior Woman's Club of Westminster hope you will join them in a 40th birthday tribute to the "Cat in the Hat." The club is sending lots of birthday cards to Dr. Seuss' mischievous cat in care of Random House, which will donate up to 150,000 books to the National Center for Family Literacy. The center, which is based in Louisville, Ky., has outreach centers throughout the country, including Carroll County.
Children, students and families can make a card for the cat and send it to: Cat in the Hat c/o Random House Inc., Children's Publicity Department, 201 E. 50th St. 30-1, New York, N.Y. 10022. Cards will be accepted until Wednesday. Information: Babs Condon, 410-848-4171.
Lost Silver Mine
When Union Mills resident Lois Szymanski read reports about the legendary lost silver mine of Silver Run, she knew what her next children's book would be about. After a year of research, plotting and writing, her seventh book, "Silver Lining," was complete. The novel, which is written at the fourth-grade reading level, incorporates a pony tale -- something her readers eagerly anticipate.
The story takes place on a Christmas tree farm in Silver Run, and it weaves a local legend into a delightful story about two children who want to find the mine and solve a mystery.
Scholastic Book Club has purchased 15,000 copies of the book, according to Avon Books. Her third book, "Icicles," sold about 100,000 copies its first year, with most of the sales going to book clubs such as Scholastic, Troll and School Book Fairs.
Szymanski, a former neighborhood columnist for The Sun, lives in Union Mills with her husband, Dan, and daughters Shannon and Ashley Marie. She is regional adviser of the Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia sector of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Her work has been published in more than 50 magazines, including Highlights for Children and US Kids Magazine.
Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.
Pub Date: 12/29/97