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Guest Editorial: Girl Scouts Give Back!

To help people at all times…

Troop 20487 recites these words from the Girl Scout Promise before starting each meeting. We live in a small community were we all take care of each other. It is important to me as a troop leader to instill this value upon these girls. Our troop started 4 years ago, these 14 girls were just 5 years old. 5-year-olds understand what it means to help people, but it is a difficult challenge to put it in terms of relatability and meaning. Upon starting our troop, the funds we received from selling fall products were an amount where the troop felt we could do good to those in our community.

So, how do the girls choose what they want to do? I try to take the activities they are excited about and pair it with a service that reflects those activities. We use the first meeting of each year to brainstorm on a giant Post-It. The girls call it “our big book of ideas!” I use these projects to incorporate other skills as well. The girls learn about planning, budgeting, how much things cost, and what being a member of a community is all about!

Things we love: Animals, our girl scout meetings, our families and the community we live in. Ok, so how do you reel all that in to make a meaningful contribution?! Here’s how it breaks down into parts that mean something to the girls.

  • Our community: That first year, the girls made birthday bags, which included a box of Girl Scout Cookies of course, for our local food pantry. They understood what it meant to have a birthday party, and they could relate to a feeling of what it would be not to have those things. Every year that passes the girls gain a greater understanding of what it means to give back.
  • Girl Scout meetings: The following year, we were devastated to learn of the tragedy and damage left behind by Hurricane Harvey. Although living in Ohio, we don’t experience hurricanes, we still understood what a loss it would be to lose our Girl Scout House. The troop used funds to purchase craft supplies to send to a service unit in Texas that lost their Girl Scout House and all of the contents inside.
  • Horse crazy! Last year the girls wanted to help out a local equestrian center which provides therapy to children with special needs. The girls picked out supplies that they needed at the center. The facility in turn let the girls come take a tour of their facility, meet the staff, some of the students, and the horses!
  • Our families: Several of the girls have family members that are currently serving, or are veterans of the military. Most recently we worked with our local Veterans Commission and did a hygiene drive to collect hygiene items needed at local veteran homeless shelters. The troop additionally used funds to put together care packages that were distributed to local veterans in the nursing during the holiday season.

When I asked the girls of Troop 20487 about doing these community projects they used phrases like, “It’s fun,” “It feels good to help.” These are the projects that get the girls excited, and are the beginning moments of forming our future leaders. The Girl Scout website couldn’t say it better “helping girls dream big….and do bigger!”

My name is Emily Recker. I live in Ottawa, OH. I am a troop leader for Troop 20487. I am a 12-year member and Gold Award Girl Scout, and have now been a troop leader for 4 years. I am married to my husband Pat. We have 2 daughters Abby age 9, and Josie age 4 (an anxious Girl Scout to be). I am a registered nurse and the Quality Improvement Coordinator for Putnam County HomeCare and Hospice. Girls Scouts was a big part of my life growing up and I hope to make the same impact on the group of amazing girls in my troop.

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