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!
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 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!
Throughout history, Girl Scouts across the nation have honored both the active members of our military and veterans who have sacrificed to protect our freedom. This Memorial Day is no different. Even though we are observing this day from home, Girl Scouts continue to show appreciation for our veterans.
This week’s Member Monday falls on Memorial Day, which marks the beginning of Service Week across our council. We’re taking this opportunity to highlight Girl Scouts who have earned the Girl Scouts GCNWI Honoring our Veterans patch.
A Girl Scout alum—who just happens to be army veteran and United States Senator Tammy Duckworth—teamed up with us to develop a special patch program so girls can connect with and honor veterans in their communities. By completing a service project, visiting a veteran, or telling a veteran’s story, girls can earn the Girl Scouts GCNWI Honoring our Veterans patch.
Since the launch of the patch program last Veterans Day, so many Girl Scouts have shared their experiences working with veterans with us.
The stories below are from some of the council’s service-minded Girl Scouts who dedicated time to veterans in their communities previously, before we sheltered in place to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Serving Those who Served
Girl Scouts from three different troops from Glenview, IL, organized a Cards for Veterans Service Project for veterans at the Hines VA Hospital. The girls ended up exceeding their initial goal, collecting over 140 cards that were delivered to the hospital on Veterans Day 2019. The girls hope to inspire more people in their community to share their messages of appreciation, not only around Veterans Day, but throughout the year.
Girl Scout Troop 75142, in celebration of Veterans Day, hosted an event filled with music, food, games, fellowship, and a performance by the Loyola University Rambler Battalion Color Guard, all in honor of the sacrifices women United States service members have made to defend our country. Later, the girls organized a donation drive to benefit the Women’s Residential Program at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center.
Service is an essential part of the Girl Scout DNA, and Gold Award Girl Scout and Senator Duckworth knows this well. When she thinks of Girl Scouts, she thinks of “hard work… a commitment to making the community, and the country around you, a better place.”
Watch Senator Duckworth speak on the importance of service in Girl Scouting:
Visiting a Veteran
Some Girl Scouts took a more personal approach to the patch program, like Sophia, who chose to interview her stepfather. During this conversation, Sophia gained insight into someone important in her life and a deeper understanding about how to better support veterans. She learned that being home can sometimes feel harder than being away, and that a supportive friend group is essential.
Last October, Girl Scout Anne decided to volunteer at the Manteno Veteran’s Home, where she met Jimmie, a veteran with a love for Bob Hope. Anne learned about his time in Korea and how he got to see his favorite comedian, Hope, who dedicated himself to providing laughter to active service members. Anne loved earning this patch so much she joined an Auxiliary Post with the American Legion in her community to continue helping veterans.
A group of Girl Scouts from Chicago also kept their project close to home, connecting with their own troop leader and the father of one of the girls, both veterans. The girls listened closely to their stories, learning about the different branches of the armed forces, how to become a veteran, and the treatment of women in the army. They also learned that, like in the Girl Scouts, everyone in the military has a part to play and must “be prepared” at all times.
Honoring our Veterans from Home
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to honor and support veterans from home. The Village of Lake Bluff will be hosting a virtual Memorial Day observance ceremony, available for online viewing on Monday, May 25 at 9:00 a.m. Filmed in front of the Veteran’s Memorial at the Village Green, the ceremony will be shared online through the Facebook pages of the Village of Lake Bluff, LakeBluffStrong, and the Lake Bluff History Museum.
by Nancy Wright, CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
Today, my goal is to fill your hearts with hope and inspiration.
The COVID-19 pandemic has toyed with our emotions for two months. It has been a social-emotional roller coaster, at times filling us with profound grief, uncertainty and anxiety about the health of our loved ones and concerns about the state of our global economy.
Yet, just as spring pushes forward despite the darkness of the winter months, humanity’s optimism is emerging to showcase unexpected generosity.
Good news can, indeed, be found around us, hiding in plain sight.
As Girl Scouts rushed to do a “good turn daily,” like sewing masks and deliveringcookies to essentialworkers, so, too, have thousands of others. Their stories touch our hearts, and spark even more acts of generosity.
Actor John Krasinski launched Some Good News to recognize acts of kindness across the globe, attracting millions of viewers hungry for light in the darkness. He most recently matched four remarkable teens with Oprah Winfrey, Malala Yousafzai, Steven Spielberg, and Jon Stewart for commencement conversations, showcasing the brilliance of young people whose drive and resiliency will guide us into a changed world.
Creative artists have filled our screens with their voices, images, and music to inspire us. Everyday citizens are finding ways to express their gratitude to their neighbors, teachers, parents, and first responders. Nonprofits, municipalities and funders are partnering to explore innovative ways to address education equity and access issues, as demonstrated by a recent announcement by WTTW, the City of Chicago, and Citadel.
Signs of unexpected generosity emerging from the depths of this pandemic are everywhere.
Last week, after we made the painful decision to cancel our full portfolio of in-person programming for the summer, including day and resident camp, an unexpected heartening trend emerged with more than 250 people to date donating more than $13,000, primarily by designating a portion of their prepaid fees, and in a few cases, the entire amount, to help close our funding gap. Others shared words of encouragement, applauding our ability to pivot and provide virtual experiences almost immediately.