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To earn the Gold Award in Girl Scouts, Malia Chitwood refurbished newspaper boxes for use as collection boxes for flags ready for retirement. CONTRIBUTED

Malia Chitwood earns Gold Award by assisting flag retirements

MADISON – As someone who never quits or gives up, Malia Chitwood was destined to earn the pinnacle of excellence in Girl Scouts . . . the Gold Award.

In Scouting since five years old, Chitwood advanced to complete the Bronze and Silver awards with Troop 10220’s help. “Finishing the Gold Award was the last natural step,” she said.

Troop Leader Kim Copley was Chitwood’s major encouragement throughout the project. Copley constantly confirmed that Chitwood had everything to finish the project.

For her project, Chitwood repurposed old newspaper boxes (or racks) into drop boxes for flag retirement. When a flag is damaged or worn, people (often veterans) follow a longstanding procedure to ‘retire’ or destroy the flag.

“American Legion, Post 229 will pick up the flags and make sure they are properly retired. The boxes are located at Sparkman High School; Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department, Station 1 on Mount Zion Road and Station 2 on Pine Grove Road; and Harvest Volunteer Fire Department, Station 1 on Wall Triana,” Chitwood said.

In addition, Chitwood filmed a video explaining why people need to respect the flag and confirm that flags receive proper disposal. To view Chitwood’s video, visit youtube.com/watch?v=qV2zo056Zhk.

The project required 130 hours: 30 hours, research and preparation; 10 hours, shopping for materials; 70 hours, repurposing and delivering boxes; and 20 hours, recording/editing video.

Project supplies included sanding materials, spray primer, paint and Plexiglass for shelves. After cleaning and sanding, she applied acknowledgments for American Legion and Girl Scouts. She accepted newspaper boxes from various sources, including two from “The Madison Record.” Home Depot donated a portion of supplies.

Residents will benefit from Chitwood’s project by learning about flag retirement’s importance and procedures, along with convenient location of retirement boxes.

A senior at Sparkman High School, Chitwood participates with Junior Civitans, Key Club and National Honor Society. On Sparkman’s cheer team for freshman and sophomore years, she won the World Championship as a junior.

She assists First Priority and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Chitwood worked with a history-based club, Teens for Troops, to promote her Gold Award project.

In other pursuits, Chitwood loves her acoustic guitar, which she plays in her church’s youth group band. In warm weather, longboarding is her hobby.

She plans to attend Auburn University and major in industrial and systems engineering with a minor in business.

With Chitwood’s project, flag retirement boxes are available in the City of Madison and in Madison County. For her Gold Award, Aunyae Johnson placed boxes at all fire stations in Madison.

Malia’s parents are Dan Chitwood, a technical program manager at Corvid Technologies, and Jessica Chitwood, custom cake decorator for Batter Up Cake Bakery.

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