To Help People at All Times

One of my favorite childhood memories takes me back to when I was 8 years old, helping my grandmother at our church on Saturday mornings to box up food from the local food bank for our neighbors in need.  My grandmother was in charge of the food distribution, and the volunteers who helped were kind and patient, including me in tasks that I was able to handle and making me feel a part of the service we were providing to the community. 

These Saturday mornings helped to shape the rest of my life.  I spent countless hours throughout high school and college volunteering to help those around me.  After college, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer for nearly three years on two different continents.   

As Girl Scouts, we have many opportunities to work with our sisters to make the world a better place.  This year, GSUSA offered several different National Service Projects, including writing letters people in nursing homes, sewing face masks, and addressing food insecurity through the current Fighting Hunger campaign.   

Girl Scouts are also encouraged to participate in local community service and Take Action projects.  Although different, both community service and Take Action projects are essential elements to Girl Scouting.  The below information comes from the Understanding Take Action Activity for Juniors on the GSUSA Girl Scouts at Home webpage.   

“Community service projects are acts of kindness and important ways to help something or someone right now. They are commonly short-term projects that almost always multiply efforts that are already in place. Examples include collecting food for an existing food pantry, providing clothing or toiletries to people who have suffered during a disaster, cleaning up a rundown playground, or picking up trash at a park, forest, or beach.  

Girl Scout Take Action projects address an issue by tackling the factors that cause or contribute to it. As you may expect, these projects have a far-reaching influence. They’re designed to change something for the better—forever. Projects associated with Journeys and the highest awards (the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award) are Take Action projects.” 

Both types of projects help us practice the Girl Scout Promise and Law by helping people and making the world a better place.  When you decide to participate in community service or Take Action projects, you make an impact not only on those around you, but also on your future. 

My daughter is a Junior Girl Scout this year and, like many of you, looking forward to serving her community through projects with her troop.   

She also looks forward to being be able to return to helping my mother, who is now leading the local food distribution efforts, to box up food for families in need.   


Post by Adia Walker

Connecting Through Service

As Girl Scouts it is part of our mission to make the world a better place. So we are always looking for meaningful ways to impact our community. As a troop leader or volunteer you can help girls find ways to live out the Girl Scout mission by participating in community service and “Take Action” projects. It may seem like an overwhelming task, but there are plenty of fun ways to get your troop involved in making the world a better place!  

Getting involved in your local community not only makes the world a better place, but it can also positively impact your Girl Scouts! It is the perfect way for girls to learn about important issues, help them work towards their Highest Award, bring the troop closer together and so much more! We have put together a few tips and tricks to help you get started!  

Tip: Understand what type of project is right for your troop. In Girl Scouts, we have broken up our philanthropy into “Community Service” projects and “Take Action” projects. Check out the descriptions below to decide which type of project would be best for your troop!  

Community Service Projects can make the world a better place right now. They can be short-term projects, such as collecting hygiene products for local shelters. They can also be long-term or reoccurring projects, like volunteering every week at a local food bank. Overall these projects address an immediate need in the community.  

Take Action Projects bring addressing a need in the community to the next level and can often be called “service learning” as well. While the girls still identify the needs and issues they would like to tackle in their communities, a Take Action project really addresses the root cause to create a lasting effect. So girls may still collect hygiene products for a local shelter, but they will need to take it one step further to make it a Take Action project. An example of this could be to develop a program to educate the community about this need followed by creating an easily accessible pantry to be filled with hygiene products to offer continued support.  

Tip: Assess your community’s needs and connect to local organizations. What social service organizations exist within your community? Often times, we may not realize what community services exist until we need them. When looking to get involved start by researching what is available in your specific community. Does it have a “Meals on Wheels” program, homeless shelter, crisis center, or food bank? If not, another way to get started is to call local nursing homes or schools to ask how your troop can help. An easy way to connect to community organizations is through your local United WayYWCA, or community coalition.  

Tip: Keep the project girl-led. An important part of Girl Scouting is that everything is girl-led, meaning the girls should choose projects and activities based on their interests. Ask the girls what they think about volunteering in the community, and be ready to take notes! Then discuss what changes they would like to see in their community and what issues they want to learn more about. The more girl-led the project, the higher the chances that the girls will gain the most from the experience! 

Check out the guide of PA organizations below for ideas to help you get started!  

Poverty 

  • Healthy Steps Diaper Bank: Learn about the importance of diapers and the barriers that exist in affording them. If this topic interest your girls then learn how to lead a diaper drive or volunteer here
  • Dress for Success: This organization empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools to help them thrive in work and life. Host a clothing drive or find other ways to volunteer here.  
  • Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness: This organization mobilizes its resources to help the region’s families and friends who are homeless, or are dangerously close to becoming homeless. Check out ways to advocate and volunteer here.  

Veterans 

  • Pennsylvania Department of Veteran Affairs: Find ways to give back to veterans by volunteering. The DVA is always looking for volunteers to help to organize outings and activities, or to spend an afternoon hanging out with our residents. Find out more here
  • Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors: PAWW provides support to Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Veterans in Crisis, and their families. They are always looking for volunteers and help, learn more here

Food Insecurity  

  • Central PA Food Bank: Find ways to advocate against hunger and volunteer for this food bank. Individuals and groups are welcome to sign up here.  
  • Department of Human Services, Hunger-free PA: Find ways to help fight hunger and locate contact information for your local food pantry here 

Animals 

  • Pennsylvania SPCA: Offers programming and support to organizations interested in service learning opportunities for their youth groups. You can also find other ways to get involved and volunteer to help animals on their website.  
  • Central Pennsylvania’s Humane Society: Volunteers are needed to assist with the shelter animals and everyday responsibilities of shelter life. There is no age requirement to become a CPHS volunteer and Girl Scout troops are welcomed! Find out more here.  

Environment 

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Pennsylvania: NRCSP offers many opportunities for anyone over the age of 14 who are interested in volunteering to improve the nation’s natural resources. Volunteers interested in conserving natural resources can join the “Earth Team” today! You can volunteer part-time or full-time and as an individual or form or join a group. Find out more here.   
  • PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: There are many ways to get involved with DCNR to help support, maintain, and care for our natural resources. Check out ways to connect to conservation efforts in your state parks and forests here.  

We would love to hear about a Community Service project or Take Action project that your troop participated in. Send us your story or ideas here!  

Post by Gabby Dietrich