by Amanda, Lily, Olivia and Maxine
We are “Four Girls for Girls,” a few members of Troop 3225 who recently worked together to complete our Silver Award project.
What is the Silver Award? The Silver Award is a group service project where Girl Scouts (specifically Cadettes) support their community by enacting change that benefits others. The project should incorporate sustainability, and each girl is required to contribute a minimum of fifty hours of work to complete the Silver Award. For our service project, we were interested in focusing on helping young girls our age who may be facing difficult living situations or life transitions. We wanted the project to pertain specifically to young girls because we felt as though we could better establish a connection with them. We teamed up with a non-profit organization called Five Acres throughout our project with this goal in mind.
Five Acres is a non-profit organization that works as both a foster home and transitional home for children in Southern California. It’s been helping families for 128 years. Specifically, we targeted girls ages 6-14. Last March, Five Acres added a new transitional program and cottage for girls who are being relocated. Typically, they’re placed here if they’ve just been removed from unsafe conditions. They stay in this home for a few days while Five Acres searches for extended family members in the area. Generally, these girls arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Learning about this really affected us, being four teenage girls ourselves, and this inspired us to formulate our Silver Award action.
The core of our Silver Award project was to create comfort bags. Each girl will receive one when they arrive at their cottage at Five Acres. The bag itself is a drawstring backpack filled with several things, including toiletries, books, friendship bracelets, comfy socks, a journal and pen, pocket hearts, and comfort dolls, which are of our own creation. The pocket hearts are made out of clay, and painted with acrylic paint, and they have a textured pattern on their front. The purpose of pocket hearts is when you feel stressed or worried, you can rub the heart to make you comfortable and calm you down. We also made the comfort dolls. The comfort dolls are weighted, heavy dolls that contain rice, lavender, and stuffing. Give them a hug when you feel stressed, and all your worries will go away! In addition, we recycled chip bags into vinyl covered, fabric lined zipper bags, which could be used for holding their toiletries or for any other purpose. We felt like all of these things were crucial to add to the bags because they seemed to be the essential to make someone happy, or at least girls like us, our age.
As part of our sustainability aspect, we first presented our Silver Award to fifth graders at our school and taught them how to make friendship bracelets, which we put in our bags. Each of the fifth graders seemed very interested in the bags we were making, and we were really impressed that they each made several to put into the bags. Even though we gave them the option to either keep their bracelet or donate it, nearly everyone chose to donate theirs because they really liked the idea of helping the girls at 5 Acres. One of the fifth graders turned out to be a Girl Scout, and was so excited about our project had her mom get in contact with us, so we also presented to her troop, and later to our own.
We also presented our project at our local service unit’s monthly meeting, this time to other troop leaders in our area, who could take the information back to each of their troops. By presenting to all of these groups, we raised awareness and received supplies for our project. We decided to put some sustainability into the bags as well, by including journals that the girls will probably look back on to remember the life they were living. We also collected puzzles, board games, card games, and books to donate to the cottage itself, which will hopefully last a few years and leave something for the girls who come after the bags have all been distributed.
Interestingly, there was an unexpected but very welcome addition to the sustainability aspect of the project. A staff member at 5 Acres told us that Girl Scouts often ask what they can do to help them. She told us that from now on she will tell them about how helpful our project was and will encourage them to make similar donations.
The last part of our sustainability is writing this blog post, to share our experience with all of the readers. We hope that you will share this with people you know, and continue to sustain the effect of our service project by spreading the idea far and wide, so others might pick it up and run with it.
Reflecting upon this project, each of us realized the voice we have in our community. With a new perspective revealed to us by girls going through the same stage of life we’re in, we learned to appreciate what we have. We’re all so grateful to have had this opportunity to contribute to the community, as well as educate our peers and ourselves about some of the needs that exist and the ways we can reach out to others.