SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A Savannah second-grader was one of 340 young leaders nationwide to receive a grant through the Youth Service Award Program, but how she used that money is just as impressive.
Emma Claire Villa didn't only get to meet the sheriff and some nice compliments, she got an early cookie sale, too.
"Mmm-hm, he gave me 50 bucks," Emma Claire said.
Sheriff John Wilcher sought out the seven-year-old Girl Scout Brownie to express his gratitude and tell her how impressed he was with a recent project. Emma Claire applied for a Disney Be Inspired Grant. When she was selected to receive one, she passed the $500 on to 0the Chatham County Sheriff Office's Operation New Hope Program.
"It's great because they're the future leaders of this country and we depend on them, and when you have a seven-year-old like Emma who would sit down and do what she did for Project New Hope, it's just astronomical," Sheriff Wilcher said.
"I wanted to help Operation New Hope because I'm a Girl Scout and that's what Girl Scouts are supposed to do," Emma Claire said.
Under Operation New Hope, inmates at the Chatham County Jail train dogs that come from local adoption agencies. The dogs are then adopted out to the public. That program caught Emma's attention.
"She wanted to help dogs. We as a troop last year worked with the sheriff's department to support their K9 Unit. They sold cookies, the proceeds from the cookie sales went to support their new dog, Niro, in obtaining his vest and she wanted to continue that."
This little WTOC Hometown Hero was happy to provide money that will help feed the Operation New Hope dogs, but she was especially thrilled to meet Sheriff Wilcher.
"That was really special because that will be the most special time in my life," she said.
Those cookies that Sheriff Wilcher bought from Emma Claire? He gifted all 12 boxes to her and her second-grade classmates at Suzie King Taylor Community School.