Photo: Emilie Miller sits with items she has collected for homeless and disabled veterans. The Herald Photo by Andy Burris
By Shawn Cetrone
ROCK HILL, N.C.––Emilie Miller, 16, collected mounds of clothing, stacks of books and bundles of soap and laundry detergent for Alston Wilkes Society, a Columbia charity that serves disabled and homeless military veterans along with former prisoners and at-risk families.
The Girl Scout launched the effort as her community service project leading to a Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive.
The high school senior said she received a lot more than a Gold Award for the project.
“I didn't really think I was going to become this passionate,” she said. “It just made me realize how I could help people that I don't even know. It made me more confident in who I am. I see now that I can do something for somebody else.”
“It’s typically not youth who have an interest in veterans,” said Erin Roberts, a staff executive with the Alston Wilkes Society. “This is kind of unique.”
Emilie recalls a tour through Alston Wilkes buildings where she met veterans. “The guys didn't even know what I was doing, but they were so nice to me,” she said.
Rides with Rolling Thunder
When Fort Mill Marine Staff Sgt. Thomas Joseph Dudley was killed during a battle in Afghanistan, Harvey Mayhill, a rider with the Rolling Thunder, invited Emilie to ride along to escort Dudley’s casket from the airport to his home.
“Emilie is the type of person that in her adult life will make changes in the world because of what she's doing today," Mayhill said. “She’s going to touch many lives as she matures into a young adult."
Good Samaritan Award
Emilie serves as a youth representative on the Aldersgate UMC Council, and the church presented her with a Good Samaritan Award.
“Emilie is one of the most amazing, committed Christian youth I have ever encountered,” said the Rev. Pamela Ledbetter, Aldersgate pastor. “Her involvement and leadership shows a maturity and a level of commitment I have not seen before.”
Shawn Cetrone is a reporter for The Herald, a McClatchy publication in Rock Hill, S.C. A revised copy of this article is published courtesy of that publication.