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GALS to raise funds for battered women's shelter, co-op

NORCROSS - A group of seventh- and eighth-grade girls at Pinckneyville Middle School was successful in getting the school to help a battered women's shelter.

The school collected more than 1,100 items - enough clothing, toiletries and strollers to fulfill the wish list of the Gwinnett Partnership Against Domestic Violence and have items left to give to the partnership's Fulton County office.

Now the group wants to get the community to help the shelter and the Norcross Cooperative Ministry.

The group, Girls as Leaders, has about 45 active members who planned a garage sale that will take place at the school Saturday and Sunday, said Bridget Guenthner, an eighth-grade math teacher and the club's sponsor.

GALS, as the group is known, is a group of students who learn about leadership. The girls, who were nominated by their teachers, plan community service projects with the help of Guenthner, eighth-grade teacher Angela Brooks and seventh-grade teacher Merrel Bowles.

Proceeds of the garage sale will benefit the Gwinnett Partnership Against Domestic Violence and the Norcross Co-op. Guenthner said half of the money will be used to buy gift cards to stores such as Wal-Mart and Super Target, where food, clothing or other items can be purchased for women and children in the shelter. Half of the money will be used to purchase whatever items are needed for the Norcross Co-op, and the canned goods will be donated to the co-op, Guenthner said.

"If everyone brought one can, it would be amazing how many families we'd be able to feed," Guenthner said.

Shirley Cabe, the director of the Norcross Co-op, said such community support is "vitally important" to the survival of its ministry.

"These type of activities keep our doors open," Cabe said.

The Norcross Co-op helps people in the Norcross area who need food, clothing, prescription medication or help paying bills, Cabe said.

GALS plans to continue with its community service efforts next year. Guenthner said the students are planning a fashion show that will benefit Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that Gwinnett County Public Schools participates in each year.