After my grandfather passed away, I wanted to honor his devotion to our country by helping the troops overseas,” says Stephanie Perl, 16, of West Windsor, a junior at High School South. In memory of her grandfather, Perl has centered her Girl Scout Gold Award project on sending needed supplies and personal notes to members of the armed forces in Iraq and Germany.

After Perl’s grandmother died, her grandfather, Harry Perl, came to live with her family. “Throughout that time,” says Perl, “I became very close with him and learned about his military service in WWII.” Harry Perl served in the Army during World War II in the European Theater. He was involved in the Battles of Ardennes and Normandy and received the European African Medal, Eastern Service Model, and Good Conduct Medal. “I also learned of the passion he felt towards our country and especially towards the service men and women who risk their lives for the defense of our nation,” adds Perl.

On Saturday, December 13, she held an educational afternoon workshop for the community, attended by close to 50 people. Armed forces personnel were present to discuss the meaning of patriotism, what they do to serve their country, and how to obtain information about a career in the armed forces. Lynn Morris of West Windsor also spoke. Her son, Chris Morris, a graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, is stationed in Iraq.

Perl’s expert advisor is Senior Master Sergeant Mary Alden of Plainsboro. Alden (widow of Edward States, the pilot of the American Airlines flight that crashed in November, 2001) has been a member of the reserves for close to 28 years. Materials to create cards and greetings to send to service men and women stationed in Iraq and Germany were provided at the workshop. There was also a demonstration of how to fold an American flag properly.

Perl has been a Girl Scout in Troop 1514 for 12 years. Less than a year ago she received her Silver Award. Her adult project advisor is Lynn Sheard, her Girl Scout troop leader.

Born in West Windsor, Perl’s parents are Susan and Barry Perl. Her brother, Michael, a freshman at High School South, recently completed his Eagle Scout Award with the Boy Scouts.

Stephanie Perl has also been awarded the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth Participation Award 2000 and the Academy at Rutgers for Girls in Engineering and Technology Participation Award 2000.

Although she has a hearing disability, she has studied music from an early age and plays the harp, flute, and piccolo. She plays the piccolo in High School South’s Pirate Marching Band, flute in the Advanced Concert Band, and harp in the Symphony Orchestra. She studies harp with Allison Simpson at Westminster Choir College.

She enjoys the challenges of science and hopes to pursue a career in the health professions. She has received two Community Service bar pins for serving as a junior volunteer for Robert Wood Johnson in Hamilton during the summers of 2002 and 2003. She has also participated in the Douglass Science Institute for two years.

Perl is a coxswain for the Mercer Junior Crew Team. Sports awards include a Garden State Games Girls Fencing gold medal in 1999 and a fourth place finish in the 2003 Northeastern US Rowing Regional Regatta for JV Girls.

She has volunteered in the West Windsor Township Municipal office. As her senior service project, she helped with the Kids-4-Kids Walkathon, which raised over $10,"000 towards new backpacks and school supplies for needy children throughout New Jersey.

Perl is requesting community support for her Girl Scout Gold Award Project. There are boxes in all West Windsor-Plainsboro schools, as well as the libraries and municipal buildings in both towns.

Toiletry items needed include razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, shower soap/gel, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturizer, sanitary supplies for women soldiers, tissues, Q-Tips, cotton balls, hair brushes, combs, cotton socks, and sewing kits.

Also washcloths, plastic shower shoes, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, lip balm, wrap-around sunglasses, and reclosable plastic storage bags.

Morale items needed include blank greeting cards (birthday, anniversary, Get Well, Miss You, Holiday), pens, pencils, small pencil sharpeners, colored pencils, and holiday decorations.

Recreational items needed include videos, DVDs, CDs, audio cassettes, assorted batteries, playing cards, small board games, jigsaw puzzles, recent paperback books, puzzle books, footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, and Frisbees.

Food items needed include individually wrapped pieces of hard candy, cookies, cough drops, canned tuna, microwave popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, coffee, sugar, powdered creamer, tea bags, hot chocolate mix, hot cider mix, Kool-Aid, Gatorade, and other drink mixes.

“The project will benefit the troops in Iraq and Germany,” says Perl. “I will benefit through the satisfaction of honoring my grandfather’s memory as well as through helping the troops.”