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Wilson High School student organizes costume boxes for Head Start programs in Southwest Portland

CONNECTION PHOTOS: HANNAH RANK  - Madeleine Millar, 17, organized donations of 80 costume items for area Head Start preschool programs. 
When Wilson High School student Madeleine Millar mulled what to propose for her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she let her imagination run wild.

Ultimately, her project will allow scores of others to do the same.

"When I was a little kid, dress-up was my favorite thing to do," said Millar, who will be a senior at Wilson in the fall. "I was lucky that my parents made it a priority and gave me a chance to use my imagination."

According to the Girl Scouts website, the Gold Award "represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership." Millar describes it as the equivalent honor to an Eagle Scout rank for Boy Scouts. She has been a Girl Scout for years, through moves from Idaho to Montana and finally her current home in Portland.

Millar learned of Neighborhood House's Head Start programs when some were housed in Robert Gray Middle School, which she attended. She knew she wanted to put together dress-up items for students, so she contacted the director of the local Head Start program to coordinate of donation of boxes to six Southwest Portland classrooms.

Millar gathered the items by soliciting her Hillsdale neighbors via the social networking site Nextdoor for community donations. She was able to obtain 80 items, ranging from funky pieces of fabric to full costumes."Mostly all the donations from neighbors are of costumes their kids had outgrown, and they wanted to keep it going," Millar said. "A lot said they didn't want to just give it to Goodwill, they wanted to see someone else enjoying them."

Sherry Eder is the site coordinator for the Neighborhood House Children's Center on Southwest Capitol Highway. She says when ordering play items for the children at the center, she has trouble finding appropriate costumes for dress-up time.

"It's so hard to find good dress-up clothes for the kids," she said. "I can order toys and books (from magazines), but dress-up clothes are really lacking." A Head Start representative said the young students, like this bumble bee Noran Krimid, were 'very excited' to receive the costume box donations. They love imaginative play, but good dress-up items can be hard to find.

Millar arranged for classrooms that have students ages 3-5 to get the clothes. Eder said those youngsters at the perfect developmental stage to appreciate the garments.

"Dress-up promotes creative play, and since it's the end of the year, it's good to have something new for the kids to use," Eder said.

Millar submitted her completed project to the Girl Scout council, which will decide if she met all the requirements to receive an award. But that doesn't mean she's done: Millar's mother, Stephanie, says her daughter is in talks with the PTA at Rieke Elementary to organize holding an annual drive for costume boxes.

Contact Southwest Community Connection Reporter Hannah Rank at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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