Changing the World: Caroline C. Puts Travelers’ Spare Change to Good Use at Local Charities
Caroline’s project helped fuse the relationship between travelers and the local communities they’d visited. The organization she established places coin collection bins throughout her local airport’s terminals to collect passengers’ unwanted extra change for the benefit of charities. The bins promote local charities selected on a quarterly basis. For her first quarter she selected the Foundation for Foster Care Children as a recipient of the funds collected. In order to get this project up and running, Caroline worked with the TSA and her local state government agencies.
Q: Why did you choose this topic for your Gold Award Project?
A: For my Gold Award I established a non-profit organization called the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Charitable Donation Initiative. The organization benefits my local community by distributing funds collected from bins at TSA checkpoints to local charities. I had seen this done at other airports and wanted to replicate it in Orlando, since it’s a place with huge tourism. I wanted travelers to be able to learn about and be able to support local charities here.
Q: How did you get started with this project?
A: My grandfather has a connection at the airport, so I was able to leverage his contact to establish the nonprofit as well as work with the legal team from the airport in order to set up a sustainable way to collect the funds. I interned with one of the lawyers over the summer and drafted the bylaws for the nonprofit and was able to get the coin collection bins. I worked with TSA on the placement of the bins so they wouldn’t be in the way of travelers and worked with the banks to calculate the money collected.
Q: What does the money go towards?
A: The funds collected through my non-profit go to local organizations in Orlando selected quarterly. Every quarter, the local organizations get to wrap the coin collection bins to advertise their charity. They also get to distribute pamphlets so even if someone is passing by without money to contribute, they can still learn about the organization.
Q: Do you think the nonprofit you created will be sustainable?
A: I researched the other nonprofits that inspired this project and saw a gradual increase in the amount of funds that were going into those bins, so I believe my project will be sustainable.
Q: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing your Gold Award project and how did you overcome it?
A: The hardest thing was how long it took. I expected everything to fall into place but it was a very big process especially since I had to start a nonprofit which I had no experience with. I had to learn how to set it up along with managing high school and completing college applications. Once I learned how to manage my time, things became less challenging to handle. Additionally, there were people I worked with who wouldn’t respond as quickly as I would have liked so I also had to be persistent.
Q: What has Girl Scouting meant to you?
A: I have been a Girl Scout since I was a Daisy, since kindergarten. Girl Scouts has given me a way to meet new people and be more confident in who I am. My mom has been my troop leader since kindergarten so she’s been able to see my growth. I’ve been able to meet so many inspirational people at my Citrus council as well as meeting other Girl Scout Gold Award recipients. It’s amazing to meet so many people who are so passionate.
Q: How has Girl Scouts or earning your Gold Award helped set you up to be successful in the future?
A: I was not used to communicating with a lot of people in high positions, considering I’m a student. Earning my Gold Award has definitely helped me network and learn to communicate in a professional setting.
Q: Do you think Girl Scouts gives girls the opportunity to lead and take on leadership roles?
A: In a patriarchal society, it’s very important to have strong women. I was lucky enough to come from a family with very strong women so that wasn’t an issue for me. However, there are girls who may not have that support system. Girl Scouts is a way to help girls become strong leaders and learn the importance of young girls to have a voice.
Q: How has Girl Scouting impacted your relationship with your mom, since she’s been your troop leader since you were a Daisy?
A: Having my mom as a troop leader has been great because she’s been such an inspiration. Even when I was younger, being able to say “my mom’s my troop leader” made me happy. When I told her I was nominated for the Young Women of Distinction Award she was more excited than me! Having that support system has really helped me become who I am today.
Q: How has earning your Gold Award changed your perception of what else you can accomplish?
A: I’m not one to quit things, but when I was in the process of completing my Gold Award project it did cross my mind since it was taking such a long time, especially dealing with other things like college applications. What pushed me forward was knowing the benefit it would have on the community and knowing I’d have the ability to use my influence as a Girl Scout to help others who are less fortunate.
Q: Do you have any Girl Scout experiences that stand out to you?
A: The experience that most stands out to me is when we went to visit Juliette Gordon Low’s house in Savannah. I had never been to Savannah before and it’s such a beautiful city so it was great to be able to go overnight and experience it with all my Girl Scout friends. It was really cool seeing the history of Girl Scouts.
Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you learned from Girl Scouting?
A: The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from Girl Scouts is how to be confident and how far it’ll get you. Not having confidence really limits you but if you’re confident, you can do anything you put your mind to. It gives a lot of girls a voice and allows them to meet other girls with similar interests. It also helps girls be involved in their community to make it better.
Q: What advice would you give to younger girls?
A: Focus on the present—not on the past and not on the future. Don’t get stressed because anxiety is your worst enemy.
Q: What kind of G.I.R.L. are you?
A: I’m equal parts Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker and Leader. Girl Scouts has really emphasized those qualities in me.