A local Girl Scout hopes her endeavor will spark a lifelong love of reading in Texarkana children.
Samantha Knowles recently completed a total makeover of the children's book room at the Friends of the Texarkana Public Library resale shop. The volunteer project was the final step in her journey to earn a Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.
Knowles, 17, made a bright, pleasant showcase for the shop's children's selection out of a dim, dusty chamber she said belonged in a prison or horror movie. It was a natural choice for the Pleasant Grove High School senior, who has volunteered at the shop for five years.
The project took Knowles and volunteers she supervised about 300 hours to complete, far exceeding the 80 required. She chronicled her work in a blog at skknowles00.wixsite.com/fotlgoldawardproject.
Tasks included disposing of an old rug and pulling up linoleum duct-taped to the floor, then replacing it with ceramic flooring. It took three coats of white paint to renew the tobacco-smoke-stained walls, along with green paint for the ceiling. Knowles replaced fixtures that buzzed and emitted yellow light with new, fluorescent upgrades, and she built and painted new bookshelves for the room. The finishing touch was a series of Dr. Seuss-inspired murals painted on the walls. Using materials donated by Lowe's, Goodwill, Nash Electric and Sherwin-Williams kept the project's cost low.
Only about 5 percent of Girl Scouts achieve the Gold Award, and Knowles, who has been a Scout since she was 8, plans to attend a ceremony honoring Gold Award and Silver Award recipients this summer in Little Rock.
"Samantha's amazing. She's been a wonderful addition," said Carolyn DeBie, leader of Knowles' group, Troop 2391. Knowles is the only Scout whom DeBie has led who reached Gold Award status.
Friends of the Library President Jane Richards is hopeful the refreshed room will inspire parents to bring their children to the shop, which sells used books for as little as 50 cents to raise funds for Texarkana Public Library.
Knowles is considering attending Angelo State University or University of Texas at Arlington after graduation in June. Her parents are Stephanie Knowles, a PGHS history teacher, and Paul Knowles, who works in customer service for AEP-SWEPCO.
The resale shop is at 320 W. Broad St. Call 903-794-2149 for information.
On Twitter: @RealKarlRichter