Storm brings out the best in Girl Scouts
Nov. 28, 2012, 10:08 a.m.
Sometimes help is as simple as giving a hug. Sometimes, it’s as hard as shoveling mud or carrying heavy canned goods. It can be fun when you get to work with your Girl Scout friends. It can be upsetting when you see how much more help is needed.
Girl Scouts are giving all kinds of help to their communities and their sister Girl Scouts in areas severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. In fact, they’re doing a World of Good.
Storm hits home
Eight Girl Scout councils in New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of the historic “superstorm” on October 25. Their Girl Scout members and staff were among those hard hit by the disaster:
- In a few troops, most or all of the girls are homeless or displaced. It may take many months before they can return home or find permanent housing.
- In some areas, schools will not reopen until after the first of the year.
- Council staff members and volunteers have lost homes, cars and businesses.
- Some Girl Scout camp properties, offices, and regular troop meeting places have been severely damaged or destroyed.
Fulfilling their promise
In the face of disaster, Girl Scouts in the impacted areas kept their promise “to help people at all times.” After the storm, they rushed to assist others, sometimes before official relief agencies could arrive on the scene.
A group of Atlantic City-area Girl Scouts took the lead right after the storm, going door to door collecting items for those displaced and in shelters. Girl Scout Troop 5327 did not waste any time pitching in to help their sister troop members with cleanup efforts in Staten Island.
Right: Abigail of Cadette Troop 5327 helps with the clean-up effort at the home of a sister Girl Scout in Ocean Breeze. Photo courtesy of Girl Scout Council of Greater New York.
Girl Scout councils opened operational offices to the community and offered a place to get warm and charge electronic equipment. Several also have become donation drop-off centers.
In New York City, troops sold Girl Scout Cookies to give to families affected by the storm. They were stationed at 25 corporate offices and public venues on Veterans Day.
Right: Brownie Troop 2307 in Brooklyn assembled and delivered hygiene kits for their local Veterans Evacuation Center. They also prepared and delivered complete meals for families affected by the hurricane. Photo courtesy of Girl Scout Council of Greater New York.
Many other Girl Scouts and their volunteers are rolling up their sleeves and taking the lead in their communities with actions such as:
- Collecting, unloading, sorting and delivering countless donations: food, water, clothing, baby items, cleaning supplies, coats, board games, and more
- Walking the streets and distributing hot coffee, cocoa, and muffins
- Clearing debris from homes, streets, beaches, and parks
- Creating shoe boxes filled with toiletries and a first-aid kit, each with a personal note of encouragement
- Making and delivering hot meals to impacted families and shelters
- Assembling hygiene kits for evacuation centers and comfort kits for distribution by the Red Cross
- Making sandwiches and packing lunch bags for families and workers
- Planning a holiday event so impacted families can obtain gifts for children
- Giving away homemade baked goods with notes attached
- Hosting bake sales of all sizes and using the funds to help where it’s needed most
Right: When Girl Scout Cookies are delivered, girls often form a “cookie brigade” to unload the car or van. In this case, Girl Scouts Emma (Troop 3057) and Courtney (Troop 3462) volunteered as part of a “human chain” that worked several hours in Brooklyn unloading donated food. Photo courtesy of Girl Scout Council of Greater New York.
A sisterhood that’s strong
Girl Scouts far from the impacted areas are clamoring to help. They also are putting into action those leadership skills they learned in Girl Scouting.
For example, shortly after the storm, a group of New Jersey Girl Scouts decided to go forward with plans to visit the birthplace of Girl Scouting in Savannah, Georgia. Many left homes still without running water and electricity. When their sister Girl Scouts in Georgia heard they were coming, they collected donated items that the New Jersey girls took back to help their communities.
Girl Scouting can provide normalcy in a time of upheaval. That’s why in Lanesville, Indiana Troop 239 started Operation: Be a Sister, collecting donations of Girl Scout uniforms for girls who lost theirs in the storm.
From Maryland to California, from Illinois to Florida, Girl Scouts and their volunteers are sending online encouragement and sincere offers of help. Many are planning efforts to raise much-needed funds.
Right: Girl Scout troops from Rockaway, New Jersey, held a collection drive for cleaning supplies and other useful items, which filled seven cars in all! The caravan made its way to the Jersey Shore, where the girls unpacked the donations and volunteered at the drop-off site. (In bottom photo far right, the writing on the car windows reads, “Jersey Strong. Troop 9228 coming to help!”) Photo courtesy of Girl Scout Council of Northern New Jersey.
GSUSA lifts fundraising restriction
Speaking of, Girls Scouts of the USA has lifted fundraising restrictions to enable girls to raise money for Girl Scout recovery efforts. Contributions may be directed to a specific council through its online giving site, and GSUSA will establish a Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund to help address the needs of councils affected by the storm. Girl Scout councils in the affected areas request that help come in the form of financial donations, rather than donations of supplies. (more information).
Although girls are encouraged to participate in service projects to support outside organizations doing disaster-relief work, Girls Scouts are not allowed to raise funds for outside organizations.