It's no secret that Girl Scouts strive to make their communities better places. From Daisies (Kindergarteners) to Ambassadors (high school seniors), Girl Scouts give hours of their time to better the world around them. This giving back is a vital piece of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, a research-driven, time-tested, and girl-led program, which supports girls as they grow in to the leaders of tomorrow. Girl Scouts choose the issues important to them and become leaders in the community by driving change. Here is a brief glimpse into Girl Scout activities in our communities.
Honoring veterans and service members is an integral part of Girl Scouting. Many Girl Scouts donate to service members and veterans through donations of Girl Scout Cookies or funds earned through the Girl Scout Cookie Program. Troops also donate their time; walking in parades, honoring veterans in Flag Placement Ceremonies, or attending Veteran's Day celebrations. Troop 4515, Juniors (6-8th graders) from Northern Muskegon, is no exception. Their troop locally celebrated a group of veterans at the Don Rhea VHW post in North Muskegon. On Veteran's Day, this group of Girl Scouts planned, prepared, and served dinner to a group of veterans to thank them for their service.
Girl Scouts throughout Muskegon County give back to charities and non-profits. These donations and fundraisers are chosen on a troop or Service Unit level and are all girl-led. Troop 3800 performs countless hours of community service for many different causes. These Junior Girl Scouts (3rd-4th graders) toured Kid's Food Basket and were inspired to start a snack drive donation at their Elementary School and made over 3,500 snack bags to be donated. Troop 3800 celebrated Founder's Day (Founder Juliette Gordon Low's birthday) on October 31st with a donation of toys to the first girl born at Hackley Hospital.
Individual Girl Scouts can also be a force of change. Junior Girl Scout Jazlyn Meyers from Ravenna is finding her inner environmental scientist to benefit her Girl Scout sisters across the council. She is working with council staff, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, and Muskegon Conservation District to help exterminate an invasive species at the Betsy Cutler House in Muskegon. Meyers is helping to rid the Betsy Cutler House wetlands of the invasive plant Purple loosestrife. With her lead, a special beetle will be purchased and released early this summer to help protect the fragile wetlands.
The Mackinac Island Honor Guard is a prestigious group made up of Girl Scouts from all corners of Michigan; including Girl Scout McKenna LaCount, from Newaygo County. The Mackinac Island Honor Guard is a special leadership opportunity where girls work with the State of Michigan for a week on Mackinac Island taking on tasks including flag ceremonies, guide duties, and service projects. The Mackinac Island Honor Guard takes a great deal of dedication, time, and service. In addition, girls are called upon throughout the year to perform flag ceremonies at a variety of locations including business events, community activities, and school functions. Need an opening flag ceremony for your next event? Call on the Mackinac Island Honor Guard.
Newaygo County is also home to a Girl Scout who has earned the highest honor in Girl Scouting; the Girl Scout Gold Award. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award a Girl Scout can earn and is the culmination of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. The Gold Award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take Action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities and beyond. Shelby Mott, a graduating senior at Freemont High School, is one of six Girl Scouts earning this prestigious award in May 2019. Mott's project, Toddler Playground, created a safe place for young children to play at the Fremont Wesleyan Church. The environmentally-friendly playground was made of recycled materials.
"My project is a recycled toddler's playground. It added various items to an already existing playground that was geared towards older kids. The playground added a fun brightly colored pallet playhouse, with brightly colored stepping stones leading to it. There is also a chalkboard where the kids could draw or bible lessons could be taught. There is a music wall and a tic tac toe board where the kids can play together and practice their social skills. There are also tire teeter totters painted in a fun design for the kids to enjoy. The already existing sand box was cleaned to make it a nice area for kids to play. I did this to give back to my church and community both of which have helped support and guide me through life."
Mott, alongside the other five Girl Scouts earning their Gold Award, will be recognized at the Gold Award and Girl Leadership Celebration (including Silver and Bronze Awards) on Sunday, May 5th, at Camp Anna Behrens in Greenville, MI.
When people hear Girl Scouts, most immediately think of crunchy Thin Mints or gooey Caramel DeLights. What most don't realize is how much more the Girl Scout Cookie Program provides Girl Scouts in Oceana County and throughout our council. The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest entrepreneurship program for girls in the country. It teaches fundamental skills to be successful - teamwork, planning, and a positive outlook. It also funds the many Girl Scout adventures and projects and teaches them goal-setting and money management as they use the money to better their communities.
Last Cookie Season, Girl Scouts in Oceana County took part in the Hometown Heroes campaign. Hometown Heroes is a community give-back
program where Girl Scouts donate cases of cookies to local nonprofits like the Grand Rapids Veteran's Home, Father Fred's Feeding Kids, and the Kid's Food Basket. Troops from Oceana County collected and donated over 5 cases (67 boxes of cookies!) through the Hometown Heroes campaign. These Girl Scouts also had an impact in their own community by donating cases of cookies for students in the After School Programming at Shelby Middle School.
Oceana County Girl Scouts don't only give back during Cookie time. Last holiday season, Girl Scouts from across the county chose to support Toys for Tots. The girls created stockings by hand for the organization. They cut their own fabric, and sewed and glued the stockings themselves. They also showed their support for Toys for Tots by bracing the cold to march alongside them in the local Christmas parades.