Ashley Panko works a lemonade stand to raise money for Boy Scout Troop 193. (Photo courtesy of Heather Panko.)

Cub Scout Ashley Panko was watching TV after school when she saw a news story about a thief who stole thousands of dollars of camping equipment from a Boy Scout troop in Duncanville.

Without the equipment, which was stored in a trailer at Grace Place Church of Christ, the troop couldn’t afford its monthly camping trips.

That’s when Ashley decided to help her fellow scouts.

“I really like Cub Scouts a lot, and I like to go camping,” Ashley said. “I like it because you get to spend more time in the outdoors. You can hear all the nice sounds, and you can go as a family.”

The third-grader at St. Thomas Aquinas prepared a promotional YouTube video that she circulated among her pack. Over the next few weeks, Ashley accepted donations at several events and sold lemonade in front of her house to raise money from the community.

Boy Scout Troop 193. (Photo courtesy of Heather Panko.)

“We put it on her,” Ashley’s mom, Heather Panko, said. “It wasn’t going to be Ashley’s idea and mom and dad execute. It’s been hard to explain to her that this is out of the ordinary for an 8-year-old. Most don’t watch the news and go out of their way to help older Boy Scouts who live 30 minutes away.”

Her goal was to raise $200. By the time she presented the check to Troop 193, she had collected $500 and several donated items, such as coolers, lanterns and camping stoves.

“They’ll need a lot more help, but it was really amazing for a Cub Scout to take initiative and be the motivating force in generating funds and equipment for the Boy Scout unit,” Cubmaster Wes Alost said. “Ashley is an exceptional young scout and exhibits the qualities we feel are important.”

At the meeting, a woman read a speech that Ashley had prepared, explaining why she felt compelled to help. The 8-year-old closed with a prayer over the troop.

“It made me feel happy because now they have some [equipment] to replace what was stolen,” Ashley said. “They’re happy. I’m happy. We’re all happy.”

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