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On October 31, 1923, when Juliette Low turned 63, the founder of the Girl Scout movement penned a timeless message to the girls who would follow in her footsteps:

"To put yourself in another's place requires real imagination, but by so doing, each Girl Scout will be able to live among others happily."

Seventy-five years later, her message reached the members of Troop 323 in Pendleton, and they took it seriously as they planned a Founder's Day program in her memory.

Troop Leader Mary Dohm encouraged her Junior Scouts to come up with something special and different.

They complied.

Since it was Juliette Low's birthday they were commemorating, what better way than with gifts?

Each girl in the troop was asked to donate one small baby item to make up a gift basket to be given to the first baby girl born in Lockport Memorial Hospital on October 31.

According to Mrs. Dohm, the girls outdid themselves.

"We've always tried to honor Juliette Low's birthday in some way. This was a group effort. I originally told them a couple of inexpensive items. We ended up with a lot of really nice things."

The basket originally purchased for the gifts was not large enough, she said. There were practical gifts like bottles and baby wipes and less practical -- but more fun -- items like little pink outfits and rattles. Mrs. Dohm included a bib with the message "Future Girl Scout" written on it.

"I called the hospital because we were concerned we weren't going to get a girl on that day," said Mrs. Dohm.

However, a baby girl did arrive late in the day. Nina Catherine Franco weighed in at 7 pounds 11 ounces.

Mrs. Dohm and five of her Scouts were there to welcome her with their basket of goodies.

Her parents, Albert and Lisa, were forewarned and were excited to have their daughter chosen.

"Before we walked in, I told the girls don't touch the baby, don't breathe on the baby, just look," the troop leader said.

As it turned out, they were able to do more. The baby's father allowed Mrs. Dohm's daughter, Molly, to hold the baby.

Also welcoming the potential future Girl Scout were Rachel Boldt, Tina Hatswell, Danielle Saunders and Dawn and Jenna Schifferle.

One of the reasons for the Founder's Day gift basket was to raise awareness about Scouting today.

"The whole idea now is to get girls more involved in scouting and have them realize that it can be a lot of fun. Membership is going up, I wanted people to realize what it is that we do," said Mrs. Dohm.

Laura Wojcieszek, director of public relations for the Niagara County Council of Girl Scouts, echoes those sentiments.

"It's a great thing that the girls are doing. I think a lot of troops should get involved and tell the general public how our founder founded the Girl Scouts and keep her spirit alive."

Junior Troop 323 meets on Wednesday evenings in the Wendleville Fire Hall.

For more information about Girl Scouting in Niagara County, contact the Niagara County Council of Girl Scouts at 434-6212.

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