These girls are the ultimate leaders—confident, responsible, and committed to changing the world. Just look at all of these wonderful welcome cards!
The girls began their journey by watching a simple video that explained what it means to be displaced from a country. The concept then became very clear to the girls, and several stood up to share that their own parent or grandparent was once displaced.
When troop leader Sara Holtz saw her girls’ interest pique, she sought out books about displaced populations to give the girls more information and perspective. The short children’s books, which were the perfect learning tool for Brownie-age girls, covered a span of countries, such as Afghanistan, Cuba, Haiti, Sudan, Syria, and Vietnam. In addition to sharing the books, Sara invited a refugee troop mom, now a contracting officer for the USPS Office of Inspector General, to talk about her own experiences as a displaced person and her journey to the United States.
“She spoke about trying to escape Vietnam when she was just two or three years old,” Sara shared. “She and her family tried to escape at night with no moon. They went to the jungle and then got into a boat. They were captured and sent back to land, where they were put in prison—she and her mom in one part of the prison, and her father in another.”
“She got very emotional,” Sara continued. “Everyone was at the edge of their chairs the whole time, and then she told us how thankful she was to the American people for helping her family come to the United States, donating clothes and other items, and helping them resettle in this country. It enabled them to get jobs, get educations, and become the proud Americans they are today.”
After the talk, the girls immediately wanted to know what they could do to help. With their leaders’ guidance, the girls teamed up with two local resettlement agencies to learn about the most-needed donations for these newly arriving families. Some items included baby kits, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and other essentials for families who arrive with little to no belongings.
For the girls, successfully encouraging others in the community to learn how they could support their new neighbors was a proud moment. What started off as a small project quickly turned into something big and powerful. That’s how we change the world—one small, meaningful, and heartfelt step at a time.
Sara’s nine-year-old daughter Nicole has a simple and powerful wish: “I want other Girl Scouts and Americans to welcome and help refugees like we did.”
Sara added, “A lot of times we put people in categories: refugees, homeless, poor, but for us, now, refugees are not just an idea. Now it’s my friend’s mom. And when it’s your friend’s mom, that’s a different situation. It becomes very personal, just one step away from you. That really changes your perspective.”
The troop’s coleader, Crystal Gutierrez, was also inspired by the project. “I'm very happy that we decided to explore refugees as a troop,” she said. “Once the girls grasped the idea of what it means to be a refugee, it opened the floodgate for conversation and for sharing personal stories about refugees in their own families, which in turn fostered empathy and a true opportunity for learning and connection.”
Crystal’s daughter and troop member Dagne, also nine years old, was impressed by what the group was able to do. “At Thinking Day, I was struck by how many cards girls made and how many names were signed on the card we sent to Jordan,” she said.
What a thoughtful and innovative way to reimagine WTD and build community through compassion, empathy, and education. Thank you, girls, for going the extra mile!