Girl Scouts Complete Work On ‘Compassionate’ Bronze Award Project
Girl Scout Troop 50763 members recently concluded work toward their Bronze Award, one of the highest awards a Girl Scout can earn.
Ava Harrington, Avery Bowen, Hope Kenney, Maggie Grasso, Nora Oberg, and Tess Rickey began working on their project late last year, when the troop began learning about the foster care system and what it can be like for children who find themselves away from their homes. They then began raising funds to provide care bags for foster care children.
Their efforts culminated on June 1, just after the close of National Foster Care Month, when the Scouts met after school in Newtown Middle School cafeteria. There, they assembled 100 duffel bags for children in the foster care system.
Each duffel bag contained lotion, socks, toothpaste, a toothbrush with protective cover, lip balm, a toiletries bag, a fleece blanket, water bottle, novelty pens, colored pencils and a sketch pad, and a hardback journal.
The girls decided to work on the project, according to Troop Co-Leader Debbie Rickey, after learning that over 90% of the approximately 4,000 children in foster care in Connecticut enter the system with none of their own belongings.
Through bake sales and donations received by families, friends, sponsors and local businesses, the scouts were able to purchase everything they wanted to put into the sturdy duffel bags, according to Troop Co-Leader Shannon Bowen.
On June 1, five tables in the NMS cafeteria were filled with the duffel bags and intended items. The Scouts began in the back of the room, where they picked up one duffel bag. They then snaked between the tables, picking up one of each item, filling the bag while zigzagging between the rows of tables.
Once they reached the front of the room, where the hardbound journals were the final item to go into each bag, the Scouts dropped the bags on a final table. They then began the process again, until every bag was filled.
Newtown Congregational Church served as a liaison between the troop and Department of Children & Families offices in Danbury and Waterbury. Reverend Kristen Provost Switzer, associate pastor of NCC, said the church will also get some of the bags “to other folks in other networks that are constantly in need of supplies.”
Those who foster, she said, typically receive only a few hours’ notice before children arrive at their home. Adults don’t know what, if anything, children will arrive with, she said. Provost Switzer and her husband have fostered a few children.
“The children often arrive with nothing,” she said, “especially if they have been moved on an emergency basis.”
As Rickey explained, “Most placements happen in the middle of the night or children are removed from school during the day, leaving them no opportunity to gather any of their comfort items to bring with them.”
After they finished assembling the care bags on June 1, the Scouts, their leaders and a few parents took a pizza break. The group then delivered the filled care bags to Newtown Congregational Church.
Provost Switzer called the work by the local Scouts “an impressive, compassionate effort.”
Following the completion of their Bronze Award service project, Ava, Avery, Hope, Maggie, Nora, and Tess are now preparing to formally bridge to Cadette Scouts.
Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.