Eleven Girl Scout Juniors in Troop 18 decided to bring hope to their community by completing a Girl Scout Bronze Award service project they titled, “Bags of Hope.” The Girl Scout Juniors, led by Girl Scout volunteer Sandy Barrett, have been consistently passionate about helping others and making a difference in their community throughout their Girl Scout journey together as a troop. Sandy began Troop 18 six years ago when the girls were Girl Scout Daisies. They used the same passion that has fueled their journey together to inspire their Bronze Award project.
Sandy said, “When brainstorming service project ideas together, foster care was one of the topics suggested. As the girls reached out to community stakeholders, they began to learn surprising and sad statistics about foster children. Learning about children in foster care is what made the girls want to do more.”
To begin their project, the girls met with several different leaders in their community to learn more about foster care. They spoke to Melvin Roy, founder of Foster U, an organization led by Old Dominion University students which aims to help youth in the foster care system through community service, workshops, and mentoring. The girls also met with Joy Rios, founder of Connect With a Wish, a local non-profit that supports children in foster care with a “Handle With Care Bag” which includes toiletries, a blanket, pajamas, socks, undergarments, a flashlight, a book, and other age-appropriate items. By speaking with these community leaders, the Girl Scouts were able to gain perspective and understand the challenges facing youth in foster care in their communities, which ultimately gave them motivation and ideas to help!
Sandy said, “When speaking with Melvin Roy, who was in the foster care system himself, the girls learned about what life can be like as a foster child, obstacles that he was faced with, and how people have helped him throughout his journey. The girls prepared questions and used the information that they learned to develop their project. They learned that many children in foster care, when placed in a home, can be removed from their home at very short notice and oftentimes don’t have many personal belongings with them. They are often scared and don’t want to ask their new foster parents for items they may need on their first night.”
To tackle this challenge, the Girl Scouts of Troop 18 decided that they wanted to collect items and assemble bags to provide to Connect With a Wish. To accomplish this goal, the girls created digital flyers seeking donations to share with family, friends, and teachers and asked for permission to leave collection boxes at community organizations, such as the YMCA. They used the facts and information that they learned during community visits to write a script for an informational video. Connect With a Wish shared this video on their social media to spread awareness about the Girl Scout Juniors and their project.
Along with receiving the Bronze Award, Sandy said that the Girl Scouts truly earned much more. “As we talked with the girls about what they learned, many shared that they learned to appreciate what they have and that even on their worst days, it doesn't compare to what foster kids are going through. They also learned that though they are young, they can do great things.”
She continued, “The girls also came to realize that kids they come into contact with every day could be in foster care or going through something tough and that they should always treat people with kindness and understanding. The girls also gained a great deal of understanding about foster care and became aware of many things that they didn’t know before. It resonated with them that kids can be taken from their home or school without any notice and how hard that must be. The girls were also astounded by the statistics that they learned about foster care both locally and in our country.”
On April 4, 2022, the Girl Scout Juniors delivered their Handle with Care bags and other donations to Connect with a Wish. Girl Scout Juniors Olivia B., Abagail, Josephine, Brooke, Keira, Chloe, Marisa, Blake, London, Teagan, and Olivia S. were awarded their Bronze Award upon completion of this project.
Girl Scout Mary of Troop 1445 renewed the community garden at St. Bede’s Church.
Girl Scout Kiara of Troop 1445 created a display about litter for Camp Skimino.