Community Service . . . the Heart of Girl Scouting

Community service is the of Girl Scouting! It has always been and will always be an important component of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, and this time of year we like to share a few examples of the projects girls have completed in their communities in hopes that we will all be inspired by all that girls do in the spirit of giving back. Whether or not your troop is featured here today we want you to know that we are proud of the great work you are doing in your effort to make the world a better place.

Birthday in a Bag Project Serves Children Throughout Central Illinois
Girl Scouts throughout the council have participated in a “birthday in a box” service project, providing many of the essentials necessary for a birthday party, such as cake mix, foil pans, frosting, sprinkles, streamers, gift bags, gifts, and wrapping paper, and donating the kits to local shelters and youth-serving organizations.

Girl Scout troop 5206 from Quincy presented birthday in a bag kits to benefit children at Chaddock, a residential treatment program and school for at-risk youth in Quincy.  The troop made and donated enough kits to ensure that no Chaddock child will go without a birthday party in the coming months.

Home Sweet Home Ministries in Bloomington, which provides food and shelter for homeless and low-income families through a variety of programs, is another organization that has benefitted from this particular service project, thanks to Girl Scouts from Bloomington/Normal. The organization struggles to provide birthday celebrations for their clients, especially when parents ask for help just to be able to provide a single gift for their child. For these families, the cost of “extras” such as cake and wrapping paper is out of the question. The organization reports that they are now well-stocked for birthdays for about a year thanks to this wonderful community service project.

Taking Care of our Parks
Nearly 70 Mahomet-area Girl Scouts braved the rain and cold to volunteer their time and energy to clean up Lake of the Woods Park in Mahomet. Girl Scouts ranging from Daisies to Cadettes joined together to clean up trash, pick up sticks, and help to beautify the park. Organized by the Mahomet Area Service Team, the plan is to have this be an annual event.

Taylorville Holiday Parade
103 Girl Scouts from Service Area 19 marched in the annual Taylorville Twilight Holiday Parade on December 3.  Girls who marched in the parade carried a total of 198 brand new stuffed animals to be donated to local law enforcement, fire departments, and hospitals.  These stuffed animals will be used to comfort young children in time of crisis.  In honor of Girl Scouts turning 100 in 2012, the goal was to have at least 100 Girl Scouts from Christian County participate in the activity so they achieved their goal! Girls were encouraged to wear their sashes/vests on the outside of their coats, and girls who were involved in the parade with other groups such as their school’s marching band or a dance studio carried their stuffed animals with those groups.  The local police and fire departments are grateful to Girl Scouts for this service and they are helping to promote the idea in other counties.

Tender Mercies
Brownie troop 4629
volunteered at the Midwest Food Bank where they helped package food bags for the Tender Mercies program. This program sends bags of dry food such as chicken and rice to places of need, nationally and internationally. Each prepackaged meal feeds 4-6 people. The girls helped measure and weigh ingredients, weigh the bags, and pack and seal the boxes. In 90 minutes the girls filled 240 bags, potentially feeding as many as 1,440 people, which means that each individual girl made a difference in the lives of 96 people.

Girl Scouts Make a Difference on the Other Side of the World
Service Area 9 helped make a difference in the lives of orphans on the other side of the world when they contributed birthday supplies, toys, games, candy, personal hygiene items, clothing, shoes, and more to GSCI Membership Specialist Amanda McLaughlin’s trip to Jos, Nigeria. One of the projects Amanda’s travel group was charged with was holding a birthday party at two different orphanages in Nigeria.  The children at these orphanages had never had birthday parties and many don’t even know their own age. Through a drop-off collection at the Bloomington Service Center troops left their donations, which resulted in several large boxes of miscellaneous items that were given to the children, along with a birthday party complete with birthday cakes. One added special touch was that girls from the service area included hand-made cards for the children in the orphanage, and the children loved them!.

Helping Young Mothers
A hot meal and some childcare can really make a difference in the life of a young mom and her children. Cadette/Senior troop 2293 in St. Joseph prepared and served a delicious meal at Vineyard Church in Urbana on November 14 for the Real Life Teen Parent Outreach program. After serving dinner to 20+ young moms and their children these Girl Scouts provided childcare while the moms participated in a support program. Through their service, troop 2293 helped make it possible for these young women with children to receive valuable support and guidance.

Giving Thanks
Girl Scout Brownie troop 2016 from Champaign provided Thanksgiving meals for four Champaign area families. The troop first discussed the meaning of community service, what it means to be thankful and what they are thankful for, what it means to be a good citizen, ways we can help others, and what it feels like to make a difference for someone else.

Using supplies such as ribbon, colored paper, and stickers, and including messaging such as “Happy Thanksgiving from Girl Scouts,” the girls worked together in groups to decorate the boxes that would contain the meals. Completed meal boxes contained items such as apples, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, stuffing, roasting pans, and ingredients for green bean casserole. The girls sought the support of families and friends, who donated food items and made donations toward the purchase of four turkeys. The girls enjoyed making a difference for four families on Thanksgiving so much that they look forward to doing the project again in the future.

Northeast Community Fund Food Pantry
Troop 3093 offered their assistance to the Northeast Community Fund Food Pantry in Decatur. These girls in grades 3 – 4 helped sack potatoes and sort canned food donations. The girls also took a tour the food pantry and learned more about how the organization serves the community. Prior to visiting the pantry the girls inquired what kinds of supplies the food pantry was in need of and then made a contribution of personal hygiene and bathroom products to the pantry in addition to assisting with food sorting.

Welcome to Jacksonville
Troop 6257
performed an outdoor beautification project on one of the prominent signs that welcomes visitors and residents to Jacksonville. The sign’s flower box had been left untended, and the troop weeded the bed and planted both perennial and annual flowers to be enjoyed by Jacksonville visitors and residents.

Lunch is Served!
Troop 5494 assisted Jacksonville UNITE by assembling 75 brown bag lunches and distributing them to needy families. The troop donated all supplies for the lunches (bread, lunch meat, veggie, and snack cake), and after assembling and distributing lunches they helped deliver goods donated by businesses to two elderly housing complexes to help residents have necessary supplies for the week. It was a moving learning experience, as the girls were surprised by how many children were in need of assistance. After their community service, the troop spent some time discussing their preconceived ideas of what “needy family” meant, now with the knowledge that other children were part of this picture. The troop was so moved by the experience that they are now looking into getting their entire service area involved in helping to provide these lunches at least once a year.

Down Syndrome Network Christmas Party
Troop 2570 helped the Down Syndrome Network with their Christmas party at the Hilton Garden Inn.  Prior to the party the troop wrapped 66 presents – a frenzy of wrapping paper, scissors, and tape!  At the party, the troop held activity stations and played with the children.  Down Syndrome Network families appreciated the troop’s help and several families made a point of thanking the troop and asking if they would be back for next year’s party.

Troop Serves Their Community
Junior-Cadette troop 5500 presided outside Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home to show respect for a fallen solider from the community. They were present for the arrival of the soldier’s body from the airport for the funeral services and for the departure of the soldier’s body from the funeral home to his final resting place. The troop exhibited leadership by showing respect to the fallen soldier and his family. Their presence showed that they understood the ultimate sacrifice given for the freedoms they enjoy.

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