A group of Thurston Middle School girls is learning the value of spending time together in the pursuit of helping others.
The seventh-graders are volunteering for Lion's Heart, a nonprofit that Laguna Beach resident Terry Corwin established in 2004 as a way for kids in grades 6 through 12 to participate in community-service projects.
Thurston parent Jacqueline Schaefgen serves as coordinator but lets the girls suggest and develop their own service ideas.
Members have played with greyhounds at an animal rescue facility, made lunches for the homeless at the Friendship Shelter and sent candy to U.S. troops stationed overseas.
The group formed a year ago, when Schaefgen's daughter, Chloe, 12, wanted a way to help others. Lion's Heart, which has more than 3,000 teen members in 33 chapters in nine states, seemed like a good fit.
"Giving back to the community makes me feel like I'm a leader," said Chloe, chapter vice president. "I realize I can do bigger things than I could ever imagine."