Girl Scouts from Troop 30158 have been working for two years to make their community (and the world) a better, safer, more comforting place, especially for other young people. These girls took their initiative and desire to help others to their Silver Award project, culminating in the donation of 1,000 “Bags of Hope” for children in the Lake Country DCFS system. Read on to meet the girls and learn about their impressive work!
Hope in a Bag
In the fall of 2018, the girls and their troop leader Tiffany began to call on their community, their first goal being to donate 2,000 bags filled with stuffed animals, blankets, toiletries, and any comforting donated items. The resourceful girls, over the next two years, used their cookie money, sourced reusable canvas bags from an anonymous donor, collected blankets in partnership with Relay for Life fundraiser, and placed donation bins in numerous community locations to prep for their amazing initiative!
By early January of last year, the girls were able to assemble and fill the remaining bags; however, by March, they were unable to safely deliver the bags to DCFS. They sat in Tiffany’s basement until October, and though they didn’t reach their initial goal of 2,000 bags, they were able to make a huge impact, donating over 1,000 Bags of Hope.
“We spent a lot of hours together,” Girl Scout Hailey described, “but I’m really happy with the results. If I was a foster kid, I’d want to have something of my own.” Ella continued, “We definitely learned how to work as a troop together because of how much time we spent. I also learned that I shouldn’t take things for granted. After putting all of these bags together, I realize how many things I get for myself.”
“These girls do it with a smile on their face: that’s the best part,” their leader Tiffany said.
Fantastic job, girls! We are so impressed with your dedication to community service.
Share Your Story With Us!
We want to hear your stories: community service, civic engagement, troop activities: show us how you’re living the Girl Scout way!
Our Girl Scouts are committed to community service, even during the holidays. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) and the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) recently partnered up to offer a service opportunity to girls and troops in our Community Service Sunday group. We asked that girls and troops work to create ornaments for patients at the CTCA in Zion, IL, with words of encouragement and spirited designs.
The girls outdid themselves: the CTCA received hundreds of handmade ornaments from girls all over our council, and the patients were overwhelmed with gratitude and holiday cheer! “My daughter, Mia, and I had a great time making them and hoped that it brought a smile to someone,” troop leader Angelica told us. CTCA patient Reopal certainly smiled: “As a former Girl Scout, I was elated to receive the beautiful ornament made by a current Girl Scout. Knowing that these girls were thinking of cancer patients during the emotional times of the holidays really warms my heart.”
Take a peek below for some photos of the ornaments and kind words!
You name it, Girl Scouts have done it. Donating cookies to essential workers, organizing community food drives, taking the lead on Highest Awards, participating in brand new virtual programs, “pivoting” to a whole new way of living the Girl Scout way. Girl Scouts, volunteers, and staff have proven time and time again that they are resilient and can weather the storm as a team. We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for staying with us as everyone processes and makes their way through the year.
And even as we’ve struggled, we’ve had immense successes. Let’s take a look back at 2020, and what Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana have done along the way.
Facing Unexpected Turns
In the beginning of this monumental year, Girl Scouts were all ready for cookie season, Green for Good, and summer camp—but as circumstances changed rapidly because of COVID-19, all of us buckled-up for the bumpy ride. Girl Scouts quickly began to shift their plans and serve their communities in times of urgent need in creative ways. Girls donated cookies and formed their own independent service projects: girls were even featured on Chicago CBS for their work assisting first responders. We are so impressed with all of the impact our girls have had on their communities and the work our volunteers have done to support them.
Girls also transitioned to attending virtual programs from home, including badge starters, campfire singalongs, and cooking workshops. We loved seeing everyone’s pictures: from seeing how you celebrated Earth Day to being inspired by your artistic creations!
We also hosted the first ever Great Family Camp-In, and hosted campers and families join us from all over the council throughout Illinois and Indiana as well as across the country including California, Nevada, Texas, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Washington DC, and more!
Our Girl Scouts showed their commitment to this pledge time and time again this year, and Troop 40681 (pictured above) showed that action speaks louder. The girls hosted a Black Lives Matter demonstration in their community, featuring speakers, performers, and a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd’s life, which was unjustly ended on May 25, 2020.
Girl Scout Kailey, when speaking to the Chicago Tribune, noted: “Black Lives Matter is an issue for everyone,” Lopez said. “It’s not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s a human issue.”
We are inspired by our girl’s commitment to advocacy, allyship, and justice, and we promise to stand alongside them.
Girl Scouts have been so generous sharing their work, thoughts, and stories with us. We are so grateful for the opportunity to share girl stories weekly, and if you haven’t read them, make sure to catch up on our blog. Girl’s voices MATTER! Hear from Nooriyah, Girl Representative to the Board, as she speaks about what Girl Scouts really need from troop leaders now and in the future.
Smart Cookies: Stand for More
Girl Scouts, this year especially, have shown how vital it is to stand up and act for themselves and others. As we all faced national lockdowns, civil unrest, and an uncertain future, our Girl Scouts stood for more, every day, through their continued acts of service and community engagement, and unbreakable spirits.
On Sept. 24, we hosted our first ever premiere virtual fundraising event, Smart Cookies: Stand for More, an evening dedicated to uplifting our tireless girls and members, and thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors, we raised over $85,000!
Watch this premiere event below:
Groundbreaking Girl Scouts
We also had the chance to hear from each and every one of our amazing Gold Award Girl Scouts, amazing and groundbreaking leaders in the fields of service, STEAM, philanthropy, education, and so much more. Our Girl Scouts accomplished truly amazing feats, making waves in their own unique ways. Read all about them in our Gold Award blog series.
Girl Scouts who were not old enough to vote in this year’s Presidential Election were not discouraged: in fact, they make calls to the community and country to vote and play a part in our nation’s democratic processes. From Democracy Badge workshops, public demonstrations, and politically-themed camp, our girls made the most of their voices and made sure everyone heard them.
This year was unlike any other, as our social, political, and personal lives experienced unexpected upheavals, drastic changes, and serious griefs. We also experienced so many moments of joy, inspiration, hope, resilience, and achievement.
Because of our girls, volunteers, staff, and supporters, we can continue to forge the future for young women everywhere, in 2021 and beyond. We thank you immensely for your support and community, and look forward to connecting, learning, and growing even more.
Support the Mission
When times get tough, Girl Scouts show their resiliency and heart. In moments marked by the unknown, they walk boldly to help others.
Did you know that Girl Scouts surpassed the geographical confines of our council AND even the United States? There are Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 150 countries! All of these girls (and you, too!) are a part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, commonly referred to as WAGGGS.
Eight Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GGCNWI) – now called the Global Girl Scouting group – heard about WAGGGS and couldn’t wait to learn more about international Girl Scouting. They started to explore: what are Girl Guides/Scouts like in other countries? What is the day in the life of a girl in another place? What do they eat, how do they dress, and what is their home like?
We talked to five of the Global Girl Scouts about their process, what they’ve learned about the world, and what they love about Girl Scouts. Read on to meet the girls!
Global Adventures from Home
The girls first chose Iceland as their country of focus and made a list of all the things they wanted to learn about the country: the Girl Guides who live there, the famous food, geography, holidays, their stance on sustainable energy, and more. To prepare, the girls all researched on their own time, finding out interesting facts (Kathryn told us Iceland’s electricity is nearly completely powered by nature) and awesome photos. They compiled it all into a beautiful presentation and showed their work to nearly 100 Girl Scouts at the end of October. Mali tried her hand at fluffy Icelandic air cookies and shared the recipe with attendees (pictured above!).
The girls didn’t stop there! In November, the Global Girls presented their findings about France, and are about to present on Nigeria on Dec. 20! Girl Scouts of all ages are invited, so don’t miss out! The girls have learned so much and are excited to share their knowledge: Maysa will be explaining the history of Nigerian hairstyles and fashion trends along with her other presenters. Sofia was especially impressed by Nigerian cuisine: “I’ve learned how seriously underrated it is.” Speaking of cuisine, check out Sofia’s French yogurt cake tutorial below!
“I think my favorite part of doing all of this is that I love traveling, learning about countries, and I love, love, love trying new foods,” Sofia told us, and Maysa likes getting an insight on how other countries work: “There is so much that we can learn from other people. It’s eye-opening and reminds you how big the world is, and how there’s so much creativity, tradition, food, and culture.” Kathryn agreed, saying, “I think it’s really important to learn about other cultures because it brings people together.”
These Girl Scouts are learning skills for life that can learn beyond school. For Peyton, Girl Scouts gives her an opportunity to share knowledge: “What I love about Girl Scouts is that we can do things that really mean a lot to us. Girl Scouts can make teaching and learning exciting and fun in a new way.”
“The best part of Girl Scouts is that every time I earn a badge, I’m a step closer to making the world a better place,” Mali explained, and we certainly agree.
Girl Scouts has been changing the game since its inception in 1912, when founder, Juliette Gordon Low, established an organization that would service ALL girls. Five years later, pioneers like Maggie L. Walker and Josephine Groves Holloway led the efforts to make Southern states include African-American Girl Scouts, with the first all African American Girl Scout Troop forming in 1917. And just last August, Judith Batty became the first Black CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Our mission has always been to build the courage, confidence, and character of girls, and three Community Organizers from our staff gathered together to uplift and encourage young Black girls in a space often viewed as a pain point and a source of joy in the African American community. Read on to hear their story!
The Best Day Ever
From headscarves and wraps to natural afros, curls, and locks, hair in the Black community has been a sacred direct connection to the ancestors who used their hair to showcase creativity, link together family lineage, and as a tool used as means for survival. The Pigtails, Puffs, and Ponytails event, spearheaded by Community Organizers Laureen Head, Shana Jenkins, and Kisa Fitzgerald, was created to highlight the evolution of what is viewed as “natural beauty,” and to instill the courage in girls to live out loud!
Shana explained that hair braiding practices in the African American community originated in Africa, and is passed down through generations of family members. “Hair-braiding is an intimate, nurturing, and peaceful form of communication,” Laureen adds. “It’s almost a rite of passage to learn how to braid hair, so the event was a really great way to connect with our community,” Kisa continues.
The first installment of this virtual hair-love event took place on Thursday, Nov. 19, and all guests received a hair-braiding kit and other goodies in the mail. What ensued was an unforgettable evening for everyone gathered: families from 37 communities and 7 states engaged in discussions about African American history and culture, favorite hairstyles, the significance of the Afro in the 1960s and 70s, ending with a hair-braiding tutorial. As one girl said in the comments of the Zoom call, it was the “best day ever” (written with over 50 R’s!).
“[This event] allows the girls to have fun with something that is not always understood but is a part of who they are. We want girls to learn to be comfortable and confident with one of the very things about themselves that makes them unique and allows them to stand out from everyone else,” says Shana. Kisa continues: “Hair, and the way you wear your hair, is a reflection of your personal style and self-expression in the African American community. We connect with each other through our hair. I hope that girls are able to learn more about Girl Scouts while connecting and embracing their hair history.”
“Many people in our community don’t know the [Girl Scout] program, don’t know we build leaders. So we are showing girls that the [Girl Scout] program is valuable,” adds Laureen. Kisa remarks: “I think [this event], along with Girl Scouts really, amplifies the message that you are important and accepted as you are.”
Look out for the next installment of the Pigtails, Puffs, and Ponytails virtual event in January! We can’t wait to see you!
Thank you to Laureen, Kisa, and Shana for speaking to us about this awesome event!
Our Girl Scouts make service a tradition just like any holiday, and this year, community service and spreading kindness is more important than ever. There are still plenty of ways to do good and make the world a better place. Be inspired by these stories and learn how Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) are keeping the community service going!
A Special Holiday Tradition
Girl Scout troop leader Tina and her girls know the value of community service well: together, they have filled over hundreds of baskets full of Thanksgiving food for years, and their service has become especially essential this year.
The annual service project began years ago as a coordinated effort between local troops and the Mundelein Police Department. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the project continued, and with the help of local schools and Girl Scouts throughout Service Unit 415, Tina and her girls were able to help serve over 100 families in their small community this year!
“Teaching my girls to be kind and humble is very important,” Tina explained. “I try to [have the girls] do things they can see and feel are impacting others,” even as the troop stays apart. “I constantly remind my girls that, as Girl Scouts, we help people at all times.”
More Ways to Give Back!
Check out this shoutout to Service Unit 596 for their very generous donation to Journeys Home!
Girl Scouts from Troop 71503 based in Romeoville recently were featured on the Daily Herald for their Bronze Award service project! The girls added a micro-pantry to the Romeoville branch of the White Oak Library District, now providing a place for people to anonymously donate and pick up food.
Girl Scout troops are staying connected as best they can, and they are coming up with some beautiful, imaginative ways to come together! Girl Scout Seniors from Troop 40048, who are currently working on the GIRLtopia Journey, completed a fantastic art project as a part of the Journey, and as you can see, the results were fantastic, even though the girls worked separately on their own time.
Read on to hear directly from the troop how they put together this amazing work of art, and how they’re staying connected through difficult times.
The Power of Friendship
“My group really likes working together,” troop leader Patty explained. “These girls are very bonded to each other. When we come together as Girl Scouts, they really enjoy collaboration.” Their tight friendship inspired Patty to challenge the girls with a group art project, with each girl completing two squares to form a portrait of artist Frida Kahlo. “You can see how it unraveled. It was very cool to see their personalities in the different squares.”
Girl Scout Audrey explained further: “It’s kind of a representation of our relationship as a troop because we’ve known each other for years.” For these girls, connecting with each other has become more important than ever. “Just being able to see that handful of my friends a couple times every few months was so grounding, and reminded me that I have people that care about me.”
Zoe agreed: “It was really nice to see familiar faces,” and Audrey continued, “Normal friend groups obviously don’t have scheduled meetings, but it’s really nice to have this. [Girl Scouts] is something that’s always there for you.” Even as restrictions on meeting in person continue to tighten, “we’ve always found a way to stay together– that’s how important we are to each other,” Samantha shared. Jahnavi added, “These are lifelong friends.”
“When you come to Girl Scouts, you see people who know you for you,” Violet added, “especially being on Zoom all day long with your classes.” Clearly, Girl Scouts is valuable to these girls. Julia believes Girl Scouts is a great way to set yourself up for the future, Brooke has enjoyed the leadership opportunities presented to her, and to Pavithra, “the most valuable part of Girl Scouting is friendship.”
“I’ve seen so much growth,” Patty reflected, “and that is just remarkable to me.”
Great job to these girls! We love your art work and hearing about your amazing friendship!
Share Your Story!
Do you have a story to share with us? We want to hear it!
Tag us on social media (@GirlScoutsGCNWI on all platforms) or submit your story on our website for a chance to be featured on our blog.
Girl Scouts are known for their allegiance to our nation’s veterans and have found creative and impactful ways to continue engaging with service members.
Since last year’s launch of the Honoring Our Veterans Patch Program, created in collaboration with army veteran, Girl Scout alum, and United States Senator Tammy Duckworth, Girl Scouts from around Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) have connected with and honored veterans in their communities.
Listen to Senator Duckworth speak on the importance of service:
Whether by completing a service project, visiting veterans to connect personally, or telling the stories of veterans, girls can earn the Girl Scouts GCNWI Honoring our Veterans patch and make a difference in the lives of veterans around them.
Read on to learn how our girls are celebrating this year’s Veterans Day, and how you can join in!
Honoring the Nation
Girl Scouts as young as Brownies (grades 2-3) are earning the patch, and these two troops 45713 and 45936 made a special and creative video encouraging everyone to thank our nation’s veterans!
Watch the video above and get inspired to take action and thank a veteran today!
Service animals, pets that are trained to provide comfort and assistance to veterans, can be essential to healing after stressful and dangerous circumstances. Girl Scout Troop 75466 felt they could do good by providing a service animal to someone who needed it— and they accomplished their goal!
The girls worked hard selling cookies to fund the adoption of a service dog, and with the help of a local organization, were able to provide a local veteran with a much-appreciated furry friend. As you can see from the picture, both the dog and the veteran were very happy to meet each other! Congratulations to him and the girls for their amazing act of kindness!
Honoring our Veterans from Home
Girl Scouts interested in completing the Honoring our Veterans Patch Program should complete at least two of the criteria from the list below and share their story in order to earn the patch.
Take inspiration from the stories above or read this list to get some ideas:
Complete a Service Project Benefitting Veterans
You may complete two service projects to earn the patch. Below are some ideas:
Send cards of appreciation
Donate Girl Scout Cookies to a veteran home or program
Coordinate and lead a virtual activity with a veteran
Work with a local veteran or senior center to coordinate the delivery of hygiene supplies, clothes, and other needed items.
Visit with a Veteran
While meeting in person may not be currently safe, coordinating online meetings with veterans you know or in a program can fulfill the requirement.
Tell a Veteran’s Story
Interview a veteran virtually and tell their story through writing, video, or another way! Use digital resources and get creative with how you tell and share their story.
During this unprecedented year, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) has had to pivot and adjust so we can continue to support Girl Scouts as they serve their communities and making change in whatever ways they can, despite current meeting restrictions.
Local Girl Scouts from all over our council continue to make the world a better place: read on to learn about just three of our council’s troops who came up with creative ways to make the best of a difficult situation and spread kindness to their communities!
Girl Scouts Work Together!
Troop 55191 of Itasca worked together with their community for Journeys: The Road Home, which oversees the PADS shelters. After previously working with the PADS shelters, the decided to repeat their service, using technology to their advantage to collect donations through Facebook. The girls picked up the donations, and made a substantial contribution to the organization.
Their troop leader Denise reflected on the Bronze Award project: “We are working together to make the world a better place, even with new restrictions on how we can meet!”
Girl Scout troops 50074 and 55990 completed their Bronze Award last month in collaboration with Mayor Richard Irvin of Aurora and Ward 9 Alderman Edward J. Bugg! These community leaders joined the Girl Scouts to plant trees at Ridge Park after presenting their project in a city council meeting all the way back in February. Nine trees were planed in an effort to replenish the trees impacted by the Emerald Ash Borer beetles.
Great job to these go-getter girls for doing their part to better their local environment!
Juniors are also getting in on the service action, as Troop 45133 in Buffalo Grove found a new way to do service safety. The girls spent an afternoon outside at a senior community in Wheeling, painting the residents’ windows with beautiful fall-themed scenes. Several residents watched them through the windows, and they waved and smiled!
What an awesome way to spread some cheer: we love it!
Earn a Highest Award!
Bronze. Silver. Gold. These represent the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn. As girls earn one of Girl Scouts’ highest awards, they change their corner of the world—and beyond. The possibilities are endless, even now!
“The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”
Juliette Gordon Low
This year’s National Council Session (NCS) was historic! Originally scheduled as a fun and exciting experience of sisterhood in Orlando, due to the pandemic was flipped to the first all-virtual National Session. National delegates from across the country gathered virtually to present, discuss, revise and vote on proposals that would indelibly affect the National Girl Scout movement.
For our council, this NCS was a momentous success, as two proposals, authored and presented by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), were passed. This was the first time two proposals from the same council have been approved, and we are incredibly proud of everyone who made this happen!
Making your proposal come to life at any National Council Session is no small task, and this year, the circumstances were even tougher. For months prior to NCS our delegates poured over every word of the 2 proposals to be able to present them in their best version. Delegates participated in countless small group discussions with other delegates from around the country to answer questions, hear opinions and comments, and gather support.
Our convention team came together, and girls and adults participated in meetings and learning opportunities for all our council’s National Delegates. Through this safe platform of sisterhood, girls new to the role of National Delegate, listened, learned and took the lead to ask questions, share their ideas and offer suggestions. It was wonderful to watch our seasoned adult delegates lend their expertise and guidance to our girls to carry the movement into the future.
The virtual platform proved a challenge for the delegates, but through mutual support and an active WhatsApp chat group, they were able to overcome all obstacles. Over the three days of the convention, our delegates, and thousands of others, including girls, volunteers, staff, and board members, presented, debated, amended, and voted on proposals relevant to Girl Scout members from every state. The work paid off, and GSGCNWI has a lot to celebrate.
2023 is already on the way—and the discussions on what to bring to the table are already underway. While we wait, let’s congratulate everyone involved in the huge success: