- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2001

The donation wasn't an amount that sets records or makes headlines. But when a group of Laurel, Md., Girl Scouts presented $258 to the widow of a slain Maryland state trooper, the joy in giving and receiving was priceless.

Inez Toatley, widow of Cpl. Edward M. Toatley, barely kept her composure as she accepted the gift for her children's college fund from the group at the Scotchtown Hills Elementary School yesterday.

"I am very touched by this," said Mrs. Toatley, who was flanked by 18 girls from Brownie Troop 2196 and Junior Troop 3085, as well as several officers from the Maryland State Police and Laurel police. "It's really important for me to see these young girls appreciate what law enforcement did."

Cpl. Toatley, 37, was working undercover as part of a task force investigating drug activity when he was fatally shot Oct. 30 in Northeast D.C.

Kofi Apea Orleans-Lindsay, 23, has been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying and is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 4, 2002.

Girl Scout Service Unit 23-9, which comprises about 300 girls in 30 troops in the Laurel area, each year selects a family to be the recipient of its service project. The girls, who range in age from 5 to 18, raise funds by selling Girl Scout cookies.

Troop 3085 leader Karen Staub said Laurel Police Chief Roy P. Gilmore advises the Girl Scouts on which needy family they should donate their funds to.

Mrs. Staub said that when Chief Gilmore suggested the Toatleys, her troop discussed Cpl. Toatley's shooting and the children wanted to help.

"They knew about it. They knew the family, they knew the situation and they were glad to do it," Mrs. Staub said.

"I feel proud and glad we did it because we're really helping that family get over what happened," Shannon Gilmore said. Shannon, 8, is in Troop 2196 and is Chief Gilmore's daughter.

Chelsea Polite, 8, added, "I feel sad, and I feel glad that we helped, because it's really hard to have someone you love be in heaven."

Mrs. Toatley thanked the girls personally, hugging many of them and sharing pictures of her two sons, ages 18 months and 5 years old.

She expressed her condolences to the family of Baltimore police Officer Michael J. Cowdery, who was gunned down Monday night, and said she's spent the last few months since her husband's death taking care of her children.

"My son asks for his father every day," she said.

Maryland State Police Lt. Col. Dave Czorapinski honored the Girl Scouts with the Superintendent's Salute.

"Out of every tragedy, there seems to come some kindness and some goodness," Col. Czorapinski said.

Laurel police Sgt. Robert Althoff also presented Mrs. Toatley with a $1,000 check on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police, and the individual Girl Scout troops in attendance presented wrapped gifts to Mrs. Toatley to give to her children.

"It's hard not to get emotional about this because there, standing there, is the reason why Ed was out there," Lt. Col. Czorapinski said, nodding toward the small crowd of Girl Scouts. "It's things like this that make you go on."

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