Playground redo means Gold Award for Girl Scout

RECEIVING AWARD — Makara Eick of Unionport will be receiving the Gold Award on Sunday during a special presentation at the Wayne Township Community Center. The member of Girl Scout Troop 4693 took on as her Gold Award project the complete renovation of the playground at the community center, which is located on county Road 39. The Gold Award is the equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle Scout Award. Eick is the daughter of Jon and Jodi Eick. -- Contributed

UNIONPORT — Sunday afternoon at the Wayne Township Community Center in Unionport will be a special occasion for 18-year-old Makara Eick, who will receive the Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

The award recognizes girls who “demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable take-action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities and beyond,” according to the Girl Scouts’ web site. It is the equivalent of the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout Award.

A member of Girl Scout Troop 4693 in Unionport for 13 years, Eick embraced as her project a complete renovation of the playground at the Wayne Township Community Center located on county Road 39.

“I came up with this idea because I played at this playground when I was young, and it had also meant a lot to me,” explained Eick, the daughter of Jon and Jodi Eick of Unionport. She is a 2019 graduate of Indian Creek High School and is pursuing studies at the University of Mount Union.

“The playground was looking old and run down, and some of the equipment was not safe anymore. The look of the playground bothered me, and I wanted other kids to grow up playing there and having fun just like it did,” she said.

“The playground was definitely in need of much work,” she said. “Although it was well taken care of with paint and cleanup each year, the playground equipment needed a lot of work.”

Eick came up with the playground idea and submitted her proposal in June 2018.

“After receiving approval, I started working on the project until winter set in, then restarted in the spring,” she said. “The complete playground renovation was completed, and an open house was held on May 11.”

In between those two bookends of time, however, came much planning and work that included tearing down two wooden play sets; tearing down dilapidated park benches and replacing with new ones; a wooden playset had boards replaced, painted and new accessories added; the merry-go-round had boards replaced, sanded and painted; the wooden fire truck had boards replaced and was moved and painted; and spring toys got sanded and painted as well.

The project also included adding mini picnic tables; a mini roller coaster; two new large playsets and accessories; tetherball; and garbage cans.

“In total, approximately $27,000 was used on the playground to renovate and upgrade,” Eick explained. “I was lucky enough that Wayne Township trustees had secured a recreation grant for the community center, and the community center applied and received a grant from the Pugliese Foundation. I personally raised money for the project by holding a spaghetti dinner, which brought in $2,538.49; personal donations given to me which totaled $815; and business donations, which totaled $2,350 for a grand total of $5,703.”

“Along with the work that I did, I had some amazing help from my family, extended family, friends and many members of the community,” commented Eick, who expressed appreciation for all who donated and assisted.

“Seeing how this playground turned out, I have to say that I am very happy that I put forth all of the effort and hard work. It makes me happy to see all of the kids enjoying the new playground. I have received many compliments and cards in the mail, and that has meant a lot to me. I can say that it makes my heart happy seeing the kids enjoying what I did,” she noted.

Eick has been a Girl Scout for 13 years. The troop is led by her mother, has 11 members and meets bimonthly at the Wayne Township Community Center or Unionport Christian Church.

“I started Scouts when I was 5 years old and wanted to go because my friends were in the troop, but I stayed because I liked the troop, and we did fun things, and I learned many life lessons and skills,” she explained.

Eick received word on Aug. 21 that she would be the recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award — news received with excitement and appreciation.

“This is a very big honor for me, and I have a great feeling of accomplishment,” she said.