Throughout 2020, the dual COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice epidemic have caused immeasurable stress, loss, and grief, but Girl Scouts never missed a beat. It’s a true testament to the powerful ways in which girls learn and grow as Girl Scouts. Early and often, they learn to be creative, resilient, and face challenges head on, always finding ways to support their communities and make the world around them better, no matter what.
Here are just some of the incredible ways that Girl Scouts have shown up in times of crisis to make a difference.
Supporting Biomedical COVID-19 Research
Junior Troop 62171 from Hillsborough, California, donated $1,000 of its hard-earned cookie money to Gladstone President’s COVID-19 Research Fund to support scientists’ work to diagnose, treat, and prevent the illness. The group of forward-thinking fourth graders voted unanimously to focus their funds on pandemic relief and decided that supporting science would result in the greatest impact.
Like the seasoned philanthropists they are, the troop always asks donation recipients to give short presentations explaining their organizations’ missions. In this case, the president of Gladstone himself wanted to present to the troop, and he was blown away by their questions and interest in the research; one of the reasons he says he’s optimistic about the future.
Spreading a Message of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Troop 83670 in New Jersey took what it learned during its February 2020 World Thinking Day celebration to create a continuous, much-needed message of hope and unity for the community.
During the celebration, the multi-level troop learned about diversity, equality, and inclusion by playing games (including a diversity box game and an equal starbursts in cups game), creating large display posters, painting murals with large multi-color handprints to represent diversity, and making friendship bracelets.
And although the pre-pandemic plan was to promote what they learned in public buildings around Woodbridge Township, the girls didn’t let pandemic closures stop them from spreading their message. Instead, they used social media with the hope that the public will help them share the message that “as we enter our lives post-quarantine, please remember to respect one another for the experience that we shared and for the differences that we have.”
Printing 3D Face Shields for Frontline Workers
Meanwhile in central Texas, a group of 40 girls that make up The Lady Cans Girl Scouts robotics team decided to make the best of a bad situation when COVID-19 cut short their competition season. They quickly turned their unique 3D robot printing skills into community support by printing 3D face shields for frontline workers. Collaborating via video conference from their homes, those team members with 3D printers and those without worked together to print more than 100 face shields and make face masks. Talk about versatility and ingenuity!
Organizing a Black Lives Matter Vigil and Rally
Troop 40681 from Morton Grove, Illinois, organized a vigil for racial justice titled, MG Black Lives Matter: A Family Friendly Protest & Vigil for the girls’ Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest award for Cadettes.
The vigil took place in a local park, where social distancing precautions could be observed, and included speakers and the opportunity to kneel, bow one’s head, or simply remain silent for the eight minutes and 46 seconds that it took for George Floyd to succumb to asphyxiation because of the Minneapolis police officer’s knee compressed against George’s neck. Some of the girls also painted a mural with a message that read, “equality and peace, like everyone’s equal.”
Bringing Joy to Seniors in a Time of Heightened Isolation Junior Troop 63042 from California’s Central Coast took a creative approach to continuing their invaluable service to older folks in their community—something the girls enjoyed doing and took great pride in before the pandemic hit. When their frequent visits to local retirement homes came to a halt after COVID-19, the girls decided to find a different way to engage with their friends and bring them joy from afar. The idea was to make bird feeder kits that retirement home residents could assemble and hang outside to attract more birds to watch. Brilliant!
The girls collected enough toilet paper rolls, pinecones, and egg cartons to make kits for four local retirement homes, with each kit having enough supplies to make at least 20 bird feeders. They even put together instruction sheets that explained the assembly for activities’ directors at the retirement homes. And the girls didn’t stop there. Once they completed their first batch of kits, they continued to collect supplies to donate to more local retirement homes.
Tackling Equity and Voter Suppression Through Education
Randi, a freshman at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, planned and hosted a virtual event to explore the issue of voter suppression as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. The event featured a panel discussion with Teresa Hardy, NAACP DeKalb branch president; community organizer and social advocate Nia Alvarez-Mapp; and ACLU Georgia representative Rahul Garabadu.
Randi exceeded her goal to have 100 participants attend the virtual conference and even gathered quantifiable data that showed an increase in the level of knowledge about voter suppression among participants.
Her full Gold Award, titled A Nation’s Guide to Diversity and Inclusion, seeks to help students and adults learn ways to include diversity and inclusion in everyday life, including the four interrelated principles of social justice: equity, access, participation, and human rights.
Bringing Comfort to Frontline Workers with Cookie Donations
Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama came together to donate over a dozen cases of cookies to Feeding the Gulf Coast, which operates three branches along the Central Gulf Coast. Working with more than 400 agencies, Feeding the Gulf Coast distributes over 20 million pounds of food annually to its 24-county service area—including counties in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle—through its hunger-relief programs.
The council also donated 180 boxes of cookies to numerous urgent care clinics and Baptist Health, the River Region’s premier leader in healthcare that serves three hospitals in the Montgomery, Alabama, area. The cookies went directly to healthcare workers who are staffing the new offsite coronavirus care clinics and those working tirelessly in emergency rooms.
Further north in Rhode Island, girls from Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England donated over two dozen cases of cookies to the brave and hardworking staff members at Kent Hospital for their tireless efforts during the pandemic. The 359-bed acute-care hospital serves about 300,000 residents across the state.
Meanwhile, girls from Girl Scouts of Greater New York donated a huge batch of cookies to staff who work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, complete with handwritten thank-you notes and well wishes on each box.
Close by in New Jersey, Troop 60689 from Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore donated cookies to police and healthcare workers at Hackensack Meridian Health, where the sweet treats were met with ecstatic reactions and thanks for a much-needed positive break.