Chicago Girl Scout Gives Back to Baton Rouge

Chicago Girl Scout Gives Back to Baton Rouge

When Mairead Skelton, a 17-year-old Girl Scout from Chicago, learned about the devastating flood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana earlier this year, she knew she had to do something about it.

“My daughter did something similar years ago when [Hurricane] Katrina hit and Mairead was one of the girls who helped her,” said Bernadette Colletti, Mairead’s Girl Scout troop leader. “On the second day of the flood [in Baton Rouge], Mairead asked if she could do something for the kids down there. So I contacted the diocese to see if there was a need and obtained a list of schools.”

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With the help of her troop leader, Sister Girl Scouts, friends, family, classmates and local politicans, Mairead collected more than 6,000 school supply items for students and teachers in Baton Rouge.

“We sent messages to the surrounding communities and churches asking for donations and my parish allowed me to put donation boxes in the back of the church,” Mariead said. “I asked my principal if this was something we could do and we organized a school supply drive. I also reached out to elected officials who represented my neighborhood and they made monetary donations.”

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In addition to the school supplies, Mairead and her Sister Girl Scouts made prayer cards for the schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge and decorated the bags with either an outline of the state of Louisiana or the state’s symbol, the fleur de lis. In October, Colleti and Mairead drove to Baton Rouge to personally deliver the items during a Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Praireville, Louisiana.

“I can’t describe the feeling because it was so amazing and life-changing to meet some of the families affected by the flood,” said Mairead. “My troop leader and the whole congregation stood up and started clapping for me during the Mass. I started crying, I was so overwhelmed.”

After the Mass, about 30 people came up to Mairead to express their gratitude and the principal of St. John’s Primary School, Kim Naquien, presented her with a big poster board signed by the entire third-grade class as a thank-you gift.

“She may have been inspired by us, but truly she is an inspiration to us to serve one another,” Naquin told the congregation, according to The Catholic Commentator.

And Mairead was truly touched by the gesture.

“It was such an inspiration to me,” Mairead said. “My favorite was a little kid who gave me a thumbs-up as he was walking out.”

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And Mairead’s desire to give back didn’t stop there. With encouragement from her troop leader, Mairead decided to turn the school supply drive into her Gold Award project and host emergency preparedness sessions at the Chicago Park District.

“That way, if something like the flood were to happen, people would be prepared,” explained Mairead.

The Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout ages 14-18 may earn and recognizes the work of Girl Scouts who demonstrate leadership culminating in 80 hours or more, dedicated toward their service project.

“I’ve made so many friends over the last 10 years I’ve been a Girl Scouts,” Mairead said, “and there are so many skills I’ve learned — from being a people person when selling Girl Scout Cookies to not being afraid to speak up when people are talking about an issue or doing a project like this to help others in my community and all over.”

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Give the Gift of Girl Scouts on Giving Tuesday

Give the Gift of Girl Scouts on Giving Tuesday

The time is now. The task is large. The return is worth it. Join the movement today and empower the next generation of women leaders.

A Girl Scout knows how to take action and make the world a better place. She demonstrates everyday leadership every day of the year and #GivingTuesday (Nov. 29) is your opportunity to take action like a Girl Scout on a global day of giving fueled by collaboration. Together we use our power to show the value of every girl.

Invest in girls on #GivingTuesday and spark a movement. We know the work of one girl can rally other girls to join forces. We know that girls, aided by women, boys and men, form an army of believers to break barriers.

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Women leaders in every field, including business, finance, sports, STE[A]M, and community service, are often Girl Scout alumnae. Your donation tells girls that when they succeed, we all succeed. Be a champion for girls and give the gift of Girl Scouting today.

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Double Your Impact!

Make your #GivingTuesday gift by 1 p.m. on Nov. 29 and it will be MATCHED dollar for dollar up to $1,000! Matching gift made possible by a generous longtime volunteer.

Celebrate 100 Years of Girl Scouts Selling Cookies at the Cookie Kickoff Rally

Celebrate 100 Years of Girl Scouts Selling Cookies at the Cookie Kickoff Rally

What better way to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies than with your Sister Girl Scouts? Join Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana and the Chicago Wolves on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois for a fun, family-friendly day of cookies, contests and much more at the annual Cookie Kickoff Rally.

Your ticket includes admission to the rally, Chicago Wolves game, a rally patch for Girl Scouts and a commemorative t-shirt. You’ll also get the chance to flex your cookie boss skills at interactive sessions, such as our cookie recipe contest, business plan competition and Bling Your Booth contest. Plus, you’ll be able to win a special Girl Scout patch by visiting certain booths and participating in various activities to complete your Cookie Rally Passport.

But wait … there’s more! As a Cookie Kickoff Rally attendee, you’ll also get to meet Skates, the Chicago Wolves mascot, and have the opportunity to skate on the ice. After the Wolves game, break out your favorite dancing moves with your Sister Girl Scouts at the after-party, featuring a live DJ.

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Come with your troop, your family or friends and help us welcome the new Girl Scout S’mores Cookie! The S’mores-inspired crunchy graham sandwich cookie with creamy chocolate and marshmallowy filling is sure to be a hit among hungry cookie customers.

For more information about the Cookie Kickoff Rally and to purchase your tickets, click here. We can’t wait to see you there!

 

Chicago Girl Scout Delivers Powerful Speech at the United Nations

Chicago Girl Scout Delivers Powerful Speech at the United Nations

Eva Lewis is back home now after sharing her compelling message about empowering black girls at the United Nations International Day of the Girl event earlier this week in New York.

The 17-year-old South Shore resident was invited to speak at the event after gaining media attention from a July rally at Millennium Park she helped organize with three other teens.

It was her second time in New York City. Eva participated in the United Nations’ 60th Annual Commission on the Status of Women in March, but this time it was much different, she said.

“This was a much bigger event, with a lot of people watching all over the world,” she said, adding that at least 1,000 people were in the audience.

Eva, who attends Walter Payton College Prep, opened up the event with a spoken word performance.

“I really thought it set the mood for the event and the tone in the sense that we weren’t kidding and our voices should be validated,” she said. “I felt like it definitely got everyone’s attention.”

Eva also spoke at the event.

The marginalization of women, especially black women, is an issue close to her heart. There hasn’t been a shift in the conversation to truly address the inequalities that black women and girls experience, Eva said.

Issues like hypersexualization, human trafficking, sexual assault and domestic violence disproportionately affect black women, she said, but the main people speaking up about those issues are black women.

Her mother, Valerie Andrews-Lewis, and grandmother sat in the audience.

“I am very proud of Eva,” her mother said. “She really believes in what she’s doing and she did an excellent job of bringing awareness to the plight of black girls.”

Andrews-Lewis said she hopes some policy changes will occur from the message her daughter is spreading.

Eva has been a member of the Girl Scouts since she was 7 years old and the organization has really helped her create a platform and spread her message on a larger scale, she said.

“It has definitely cultivated me and my voice,” Eva said. “They’ve been so supportive of all my initiatives and political viewpoints, as well as helping me reach out to different media outlets.”

Without Girl Scouts, Eva said she probably wouldn’t have been invited to speak at the United Nations.

To read the full story, please visit DNAinfo.com.

Girl Scouts Embark on a Swiss Adventure

Girl Scouts Embark on a Swiss Adventure

Nearly a dozen girls from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana traveled to Switzerland this summer on a council-sponsored trip. Accompanied by five adults, the group arrived in Zurich after an eight-hour plane journey from the States. Once there, they hit the ground running on a walking tour of Altstadt, or Old Town, in the Swiss city of Zurich.

The next day, the Girl Scouts went to the Swiss National Museum and the Zurich Zoo, where they happened to see Beyoncé! Next up was Bern, the capital of Switzerland. The group enjoyed many free sites here, such as a bear pit, rose garden and botanical garden.

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Girl Scouts in Bern, Switzerland

The following day, everyone participated in a walking tour of Bern and was luck enough to see Le Tour de France as the cyclists biked through the town.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the nine days the girls got to spend at Our Chalet, which is an international Girl Guide/Girl Scout centre and one of five World Centres of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, or WAGGS. While there, the girls met other groups from the U.S. and Canada, including their pen pals from Canada.

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Girl Scouts white-water rafting at Our Chalet

While at Our Chalet, the girls also went zip-lining, abseiling into a gorge, white-water rafting, met a woodcarver and did a lot of hiking. The views of the country were phenomenal. Finishing up the trip was a day in Lauterbrunnen where the participants saw Trummelbach Falls, the only waterfalls in Europe you can see inside of a mountain.

This trip was a culmination of a year’s worth of planning. Once the girls applied in June 2015, they began discussing their itinerary. They also attended a panel with people who had either worked at Our Chalet or visited there to get a better sense of what to expect.

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Girl Scouts at Trummelbach Falls in Switzerland

At the end of the trip, the girls agreed that Switzerland was one of the most beautiful places they had ever seen and they returned to the States with bags of cheese and chocolate for souvenirs.

To learn more about council-sponsored travel opportunities, click here. For more information about traveling as a Girl Scout, please email our senior program manager of arts, cultural awareness and travel programs at achristensen@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Kankakee Girl Scout Troop Embodies the True Meaning of Sisterhood

Kankakee Girl Scout Troop Embodies the True Meaning of Sisterhood

Eight years ago, Girl Scout Daisy Mia Martin was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), which is a congenital heart defect that affects normal blood flow due to the incorrect formation of the left side of the heart, causing holes or gaps in the walls.

Since diagnosis, Mia has had 14 procedures, four of which were open heart.

“Looking at her, you would never know,” said her mom, Jaime Martin. “She is a very strong girl. She never gets gives up on what she wants to accomplish, and if she can’t do something, she will keep working on it until she does get it.”

When Mia was entering first grade, Bonfield Grade School in Bonfield, Illinois held a fair that included a Girl Scouting table. Mia and her mom did not hesitate to register and get started in Troop 75410. Part of the reason Mia wanted to join was because her family had received so much help and she wanted to give back to the community by participating in Girl Scouts.

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Mia (left) and her friends love getting together during Girl Scout meetings – Troop 75410, Service Unit  746

This year, Mia has perfect attendance at her Girl Scout meetings.

“She’s always asking if this is a Monday she has a Girl Scout meeting,” her mom said. “She has already learned so much in just one year – earning all her Daisy pedals and 23 patches, and selling over 200 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies!”

Mia is highly involved in the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) chapter near her, where she stays around procedure times. According to Mia, her favorite day at RMH so far was the day her Sister Girl Scouts visited her and brought her goodies.

The troop members made breakfast bags for the current and future guests. Mia and her friends toured RMH, and she explained how much this place has done for her and her family throughout her many procedures. There is an engraved brick on RMH’s campus in memory of her grandmother and in honor of Mia. Mia loves to show off her brick to her guests and visitors.

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Mia pictured with the brick that honors her and remembers her grandmother. (Credit: RMHC Chicago and Northwest Indiana Facebook)

Mia and her family want to encourage their community to support the Ronald McDonald House through their Pop Tab Collection Program. This program benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities  of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana (RMHC-CNI) through their recycling partner, United Scrap Metal, which donates the market-value of the recycled items back to RMHC-CNI. Last year RMHC-CNI raised more than $40,000. Since it started, the Martin family has already collected one million pop tabs! In honor of this great accomplishment, Mia’s name will now be on the wall at RMH. Pop tab collections can be dropped off at various addresses listed on the website.

In addition to collecting pop tabs, Mia and her Daisy troop have been selling lemonade to raise funds for RMHC.

The Martin family says that Girl Scouting has made a huge impact in Mia’s life so far as a great organization that accepts everyone and demonstrates openness and love.

“She is my miracle,” her mother said fondly. “I just try to teach her to be thankful for every day and live life to the fullest!”

Local Girl Scouts Recognized for Innovation as FIRST LEGO League Semi-Finalists

Local Girl Scouts Recognized for Innovation as FIRST LEGO League Semi-Finalists

When you think of LEGOs, what comes to mind?

For members of Fast Thinking Girls, a Girl Scout-sponsored team, they think of an opportunity to change the world.

The Fast Thinking Girls (GIRLS stands for: Great Intelligent Robotics Loving Science) was one of the 20 semifinalist teams selected from entries across 23 countries for their innovative solution FIRF: Food Into Renewable Fuel.

“[FIRF] will keep food out of landfills which will reduce methane in the atmosphere and reduce global warming,” said the girls from Girl Scout Troops 40915 and 40792 and Service Unit 404 in Mount Prospect, Illinois.  “It will also help people have a more convenient way to recycle food.”

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Fast Thinking Girls visit The Plant in Chicago to study a commercial digester.

The girls will be traveling from to Washington, D.C. this month to present their innovation to expert judges.  There, they will participate in a two-day hands-on event at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, aiming for the top prize of $20,000.

“We are most excited to go to Washington, D.C. for the awards ceremony and to meet the teams from other countries like Canada, Germany and Spain,” said the girls.  “Making a real prototype and getting a patent is also something we look forward to. We can’t wait to see it work!”

This was not an easy feat.  These troops completed a research project with involved working with mentors to design, build and program autonomous robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS.

“Learning the new EV3 software for our robot and understanding what anaerobic digestion [were the hardest parts],” said the team.  “It took us a long time to figure out our solution. This year’s solution is really complicated and there are a lot of pieces we still need to figure out.”

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The team meets with engineers at Underwriters Laboratories.

These girls are joining the ranks of innovators and creators who have helped the world tremendously.  Past winners created solutions like helping toddlers with hand differences learn to write and erasable bar codes to warn consumers about food spoilage.

Luckily for the girls, they had the Girl Scout skills to support them throughout their journey.

“Girl Scouts helped us learn and research about new things, helped us create, design and talk to specialists and professionals to help create our FIRF,” said the troops.  “They have also given us the tools to learn how to communicate better with my team and resolve conflict.  They have given us support every step of our journey and shown us that our ideas are important even with providing money to help us during the season.  We have taken some classes about engineering and they invited us to talk to a group of engineers about our FIRF.  We think being on a team with just girls is better.”

Want to watch the team in action? Tune in to the live stream on Wednesday, June 22 at 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET by clicking HERE!

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Girl Scouts Celebrate 50 Years of Friendship

Girl Scouts Celebrate 50 Years of Friendship

“Make new friends and keep the old” is more than just a traditional Girl Scout song. For members of the adult Troop 007, it’s a way of life.

The group, one of the few organized adult troops in the country, has humble origins in the western suburbs of Chicago.

“It all started in 1965 when we decided to have our own adult outing after a council-sponsored one,” explained Carol “Cinders” Nelson, one of the charter members of the troop. “At the time, it was part of the Girl Scout Lone Tree Area Council in Oak Park, Illinois.”

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Pat “Sunshine” Mellema (left) greets Yvonne “Sam” Morehead with a hug.

That first year, the women went camping in Wisconsin. Over time, as Girl Scout tradition would have it, they bestowed upon each other camp nicknames, such as “Beaver,” “Stinky” and “Salty.” For example, Nelson became known as “Cinders” after sweeping a fireplace at camp and Rita “Little Bill” Watt was named after the Commonwealth Edison light bulb logo.

The members refer to each other by their camp names so frequently, they often forget each other’s real names.

“There was one time we went to visit a friend in the hospital and we couldn’t remember her real name,” recalled Watt. “The nurse must have thought we were crazy. It was so funny. We had a lot of fun over the years.”

After inducting 32 original members, the group had a waiting list. In order to become part of the troop, women had to be a registered Girl Scout member and referred by a current member. Husbands were often honorary members.

“It’s like a family,” Nelson said after describing the time a Sister Girl Scout’s husband made dinner for her family after her father-in-law had passed away.

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Yvonne “Sam” Morehead and Jeanne “Nege” Stange pose for a picture at lunch at Mother’s Day Restaurant in North Riverside, Illinois.

The troop’s moniker derived from the James Bond series, which had premiered a few years before Troop 007 convened.

“We just thought he [Sean Connery] was so handsome!” said Watt.

As adult volunteers, Troop 007 created fun, hands-on activities for the girl members, such as the Brownie Bash, Cadette Crawl and Junior Jumble.

“They’d ask us to teach other leaders and facilitate camp crafts for children,” said Nelson. “We also taught them how to build campfires and sing the traditional camp songs.”

But the fun wasn’t limited to the girls. During Troop 007’s adult outings, each patrol would have a different theme, such as decades and superheroes, and create banners to coincide with the theme.

“Our camping days are behind us now,” said Watt. “We’re past that age now.”

After 50 years together, Troop 007 officially disbanded in October 2015, but they still get together occasionally for lunch and other outings, most often in St. Charles, Illinois where they had attended the now defunct Girl Scout Camp Wild Rose. There are about a dozen surviving members of the group in various states including Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota and Washington.

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Troop 007 plans its fall outing during lunch.

As a final act of goodwill toward Sister Girl Scouts, the troop donated about $200, the remains of the troop treasury, to Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana to “help a girl or troop enjoy a camping experience.”

“It’s a way to give back to Girl Scouting,” said Nelson.

Pam “Gunner” Roti, whose mother, Doris “Beaver” Morris, is also a member of Troop 007, agreed.

“If it weren’t for the Girl Scouts, I’d be a memory,” Roti said. “I was one of the naughty ones and Girl Scouts helped me turn my life around.”

Join Us for #100DaysOfGold

Join Us for #100DaysOfGold

To commemorate the impactful work of all who have earned Girl Scouting’s highest awards, we’re celebrating with a council-wide service initiative known as #100DaysOfGold.

Service units, troops, volunteers, girls, families and supporters are invited to do good in their communities throughout our 100 days of service, starting on March 12 and going through June 20. Let’s show everyone what it means to go gold and make the world a better place!

Are you participating in #100DaysOfGold? We’d love to learn more! Please complete our quick online form and tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram when you share stories and photos.

Starting on March 1, anyone who participates can visit their local Gathering Place and grab a bright, fun and complimentary #100DaysOfGold slap bracelet!

 

Go Gold

Need some ideas to get started? Take a look at the list below and check back as new ones are added.

Events:

April 15-17

Feed the Hungry: Join North Shore Seeds at Christian Heritage Academy to pack seeds to send to impoverished people around the world. Volunteers will work in two-hour shifts. For more information or to register, click here.

April 25

Chicago Youth Service Day: Join youth across Chicago for an interactive day of service and non-violent action. Projects are youth-driven and include beautifying community spaces, serving senior citizens and learning about world hunger. Click here to learn more.

April 30 and May 1:

Kits for Kids: Help Project C.U.R.E. through their Kits for Kids program by bringing “medicine cabinet supplies” and a nominal donation to give the gift of health to other kids around the world. Join the Packing Party on April 30 at the Friendship Center in Country Club Hills and May 1 at the Vernon Hills Gathering Place. Registration is $6 per girl.

May 7:

Run for the Kids: Join the Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley at their 13th Annual Run for the Kids: Superhero Hustle 5K Run/2 Mile Walk in Villa Park. Take part in the festivities or cheer along participants with pom-poms and colorful signs of encouragement.

May 9:

Almost Home Kids: This Illinois-based organization provides transitional care in a home-like setting to medically fragile children with complicated health needs and respite care in Chicago and Naperville. Help them celebrate National Nurses Week (starting May 9) by honoring pediatric nurses who provide important care for the children at Almost Home Kids. Troops can bring a meal to nurses during the day or night shift. Or create goodie bags containing chocolate, hand lotion, pens and small snacks for the nurses. For more information, please email Lisa Snow, community outreach coordinator, at lsnow@almosthomekids.org.

May 13-15:

All Things That Glitter: Do you have new or gently used accessories, such as handbags, jewelry and scarves sitting around the house collecting dust? Donate your items to under-served girls at Chicago Public Schools through All Things That Glitter’s accessory drive. You can drop off your accessories at our Vernon Hills Gathering Place (650 N. Lakeview Parkway). For more information, click here.

June 3-4 and June 10-11:

Forget-Me-Not Days: Help the Alzheimer’s Association raise awareness about the disease by collecting donations outside storefronts, business offices, tourist attractions and more. Chicago collections take place June 3-4 and collections in the suburbs will take place June 10-11. In exchange for a donation, volunteers will distribute Forget-Me-Not flower seeds to plant in honor of the more than five million people living with Alzheimer’s. To learn more or find a volunteer opportunity near you, please click here or contact Rebekah Marquez at rmarquez@alz.org.

June 11:

Beautify Your Gathering Place: Get your hands dirty planting flowers and spreading mulch at your Girl Scout Gathering Place, then make a recycled craft to take home. You’ll also receive a fun patch and a pair of gardening gloves. For more information and to register, click here.

Special Events for Girl Scout Alumnae:

 

June 18:

Chicago Park District Service Day: At Nichols Park in Hyde Park (1355 E. 53rd Street, Chicago) from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., join your Sister Girl Scouts in cleaning up the park, mulching, weeding, gardening and other projects that may come up. It’s a great opportunity to work along with other Girl Scout alums to help make the world a better place. Suggested attire: closed-toed shoes, comfortable clothes and gardening gloves. Street parking is available.

To register, please visit www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org/alumnae. For more information, please contact Pat Broughton, VP of Philanthropic Innovation at pbroughton@girlscoutsgcnwi.org or 312-912-6342.

Ongoing:

Alexian Brothers: With locations throughout the Chicagoland area, there are plenty of opportunities to care and help others while learning about the healthcare field. For more information, click here or email Laura Ingrim at laura.ingrim@alexian.net.

American Heart Association Patch Program: A healthy heart is critical to a healthy lifestyle, which is why we’ve teamed up with the American Heart Association to promote heart awareness. To learn more about the program and to register, visit our blog.

Amnesty International: There are plenty of ways to get involved with Amnesty International and lobby for human rights. Sign a petition, attend an event or start a campaign at your school. Learn more here or email Emily Walsh at ewalsh@aiusa.org for details.

Bernie’s Book Bank: Want to share your love of reading with at-risk children throughout Chicagoland? Volunteer for Bernie’s Book Bank in Lake Bluff, IL. You can drop in at the warehouse or collect books on the bank’s behalf. Learn more here or email volunteer@berniesbookbank.org.

Bridge Communities: Connect homeless families to a better future by volunteering with Bridge Communities in Glen Ellyn, IL. You can also earn “A Heart for the Homeless” patch. For more information, click here.

Chemo Survivor Kits: If you’ve ever had a family member or friend diagnosed with cancer, you know how difficult the process can be. By collecting a few simple items in a small tote bag, chemo patients will know the small difference you made. Register here.

Chicago Cares: Volunteer at locations around the city, such as Mercy Homes, local schools, and Garfield Park Conservatory, with Chicago Cares. Details here.

Clean up your playground or park: Make the world a more beautiful place by picking up trash in your neighborhood.

Clean your closet: Get a head start on spring cleaning by donating your gently used clothes to a local family or refugee shelter. Click here to find out how Girl Scout Madison Fanta started a clothing drive in Saint John, Indiana.

Connection of Friends: Enrich the lives of teenagers and adults with special needs by volunteering with Connection of Friends in Wheaton, IL. Learn more and apply today here.

Connections for the Homeless: Team up with your troop to host a donation drive for this nonprofit organization that helps people dealing with homelessness in Evanston. The most commonly needed items include household size toiletries, cleaning supplies, linens and blankets. You can also gather a group to cook and serve dinner at Hilda’s Place Shelter or sign up for a Second Saturday for Service where you can help clean the shelter, sort donations, organize the food pantry and more. For more information, click here.

Cradles to Crayons: Looking for a fun and easy way to give back? Create customized “KidPacks” for children in need. Click here for more details or email Kelsey Miklos at kmilkos@cradlestocrayons.org.

Cuddle Comfort: Create cuddly small pillows or lap blankets as welcome gifts for pediatric patients, senior citizens, homeless shelters and emergency rooms. Register here.

Deborah’s Place: Help women heal, grow and lead at Deborah’s Place, a safe community for women experiencing homelessness in Chicago. With ongoing, individual and group opportunities available, there’s a chance to give back for everyone.

Donate gently used books, toys and games: Make another kid’s day by donating items you don’t use anymore to a children’s hospital or family shelter.

Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry: Volunteer during client shopping hours and food deliveries at the Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry. For details, click here.

Gilda’s Club Chicago: There are different ways to help people who’ve been affected by cancer by helping at Gilda’s Club Chicago. Whether it’s greeting members at the reception desk or playing with children and teens, find out how you can get involved here.

Girl Scout Help: If you want to give back and you’re not sure where to start, begin with Girl Scout Help, which connects Girl Scouts with various volunteer opportunities.

Greenheart Travel: Want to rescue animals in Costa Rica or save elephants in Sri Lanka? You can make a difference by volunteering abroad with Greenheart Travel.

Honor Flight: Pay homage to the brave women and men who served our country by becoming an Honor Flight volunteer. Help these heroes get their day of honor in Washington, D.C. by clicking here or emailing Kathi Krankoski at hfcscouts@gmail.com.

Humanitarian Service Project: Support families in need by volunteering with Humanitarian Service Project in Carol Stream, IL. Opportunities include food and toy sorting.

Host a bake sale or lemonade stand: Whip up a batch of your favorite sweet treat and donate the proceeds to your visit charity.

La Casa Norte: Serve youth and families facing homelessness by getting involved with this Chicago-based organization. Learn more about open volunteer positions here.

Little Hands – Big Hearts: This volunteer opportunity is perfect for little ones who want to make a big difference. For more information, click here.

Meals on Wheels Chicago: Visit with seniors residing in independent living communities with Meals on Wheels’ Friends Beyond the Years program. Details here.

Midwest Soarring Foundation: This nonprofit is dedicated to “educating the public about various American Indian cultural issues, environmental issues, and building community among all people.” To learn more or to volunteer, click here.

Northern Illinois Food Bank: Help the hungry by volunteering at one of three locations in Northern Illinois. Children ages 8 and older can volunteer with families or in groups with adult chaperones. For more information, click here.

Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions: Learn about agriculture and farming, environment and conservation and more when you volunteer abroad in Jamaica. Find out more here.

Organize a blood drive in your community: Recruit donors and help schedule appointments. Create thank-you cards to hand out at the drive. Visit the American Red Cross to learn more.

Restoration Workday: Make use of your green thumb and help restore biodiversity and function to our native ecosystems with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Ronald McDonald House Charities: Support the families staying at your local Ronald McDonald Houses and Ronald McDonald Family Room by collecting wish list items, volunteering in the Houses to bake sweets and creating a craft for patients and siblings to enjoy. Each location has specific needs that groups can directly help with and support. Register here.

Send cards to soldiers: Thank women and men in the armed forces for their service to our country. While you’re at it, send cards to veterans, too!

Share Your Soles: Help provide shoes for children and adults in need by volunteering with Share Your Soles. Learn how you can get involved here.

The Puppy Mill Project: If you’re a passionate animal lover, check out volunteer opportunities with this Chicago nonprofit. To sign up, click here.

Visit a local nursing home: Take some time to visit senior citizens at a nursing home in your community. You can read with them or have fun making crafts. Don’t live near a nursing home? Offer to help an elderly neighbor with household chores.

Volunteer at an animal shelter: Help cute critters ready for adoption by volunteering to play with them and groom them. Or you can collect items for the shelter, such as food and supplies, or make toys for the animals.

 

 

 

 

 

What I Learned at Girl Scout Summer Camp

What I Learned at Girl Scout Summer Camp

My name is Charlotte and I have been a Girl Scout for 10 years, from Daisy through to Senior. For the last four years, I’ve gone to Girl Scout summer camp. I’ve been to the Hoist your Sail, On Belay, Engineering Design and Backpacking Adventurer camps. The picture of our Backpacking group was in this year’s camp brochure, how cool is that?

Going to Girl Scout camp is great. There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met. It doesn’t matter if you go to camp by yourself (like I do!) as you always meet up with other girls from previous years camps. Even though we haven’t seen each other for a year we’re still the best of friends. I love camping in the outdoors, learning new skills and sharing those experiences with my new and old friends.

Charlotte Camping Solo

Sailing taught me how to work both on my own and with other crew members. Of course the best part was tipping the sail boat and trying to re-right it! It was so much fun to be on, and in, the water every day. Our group stayed in platform tents by the lake which was great as it was cooler by the water.

Rock climbing taught me that I must be responsible for checking my equipment and that no obstacle is too high or too scary to overcome when you have buddies encouraging you all the way. At Devil’s Lake we stayed in the coolest yurts ever. They had A/C and a TV, too (shhh … don’t tell your moms!). Mind you, it was 103 degrees when we were there, so it was much appreciated.

The Engineering program was one of my favorite camps. We worked in groups and individually to solve all sorts of problems using the items provided as well as improvising along the way. We also got to visit the Yerkes Observatory. I had never done any engineering before, but after this camp I looked into the engineering classes my future high school had to offer. As a freshman, I chose to do a class in engineering design and next year I’m doing civil engineering and architecture. If I hadn’t been on this camp I would never thought about doing engineering at high school.

Finally, the Backpacking camp taught me the value of teamwork: planning and doing our hikes, sharing responsibilities around camp and fine tuning our “leave no trace” skills. I also learned that I really don’t like powdered eggs for breakfast and that life without any electronics is possible and totally enjoyable when you have good company and lovely scenery.

So, what will you do this summer? Watch TV? Play computer games? I challenge you to go try something new!

As for me, I’m off to Girl Scout leadership camp this summer. It’s time to learn some new skills and how to give back to the Girl Scout community.

Have a great summer – see you at camp!

There’s so much to see and do at summer camp! Check out our full list of summer programs at day and resident camps across our council in the 2016 Program Guide and register today.