Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Service Projects, Take Action Projects, Community Service, Giving Back

No matter what you want to call it, this is one of the best pieces of being a Girl Scout... in my opinion. From the very first level of Daisy, girls are shown the importance of giving back to your community. 

What's awesome about this to me, is that girls are SHOWN... not told. I am happy to say each and every service project my troops have done, I have done with them. We work as a team. We have helped Marine Parents pack up countless bottles of shampoo (did you know you need to tape shampoo bottles shut, if you are sending them somewhere, because the air pressure on a plane can cause them to explode? It ruins care package cookies... save the cookies!). We have reclaimed garden areas for churches and schools. We have donated kitchen supplies to FACs rooms. We have left surprise cupcakes for teachers when completing our Cake Decorating IP. We've made holiday cards for a homeless shelter. We've donated scarves (that we made!), blankets (which we made), and more to various shelters and groups. Our latest was Valentine cards for Meals on Wheels, which was very cool by the way... a card-making party at my house and 230 cards to donate. This week we will be working on bracelets to send to Ethiopia (http://www.crafthope.net/blog/2016/01/project-27-partners-with-ethiopia.html)


Six years down the road, it's easy for me to say our troop gives back. The girls love it. I love it. But, I also remember the first year as a Leader when I heard of others talking about "service projects" and "take action" or even worse "TAP". It was quite confusing. So... deep breath, if you are at the point of asking "WHAT IS A SERVICE PROJECT?!?!?" I get you. I totally get the frustration... believe me, I have screamed inside my head (and maybe to an empty house) various questions over my Leader years. 

I recall a rather enlightening meeting with my 3rd grade Brownies discussing what "community" means. Community doesn't necessarily mean your town. It could be your neighborhood, your church, your school, your hospital, your meeting place, your Girl Scout community. So, when thinking about projects... think about that. Not only should we reach out to our towns and cities, but take it smaller. Often, smaller area means larger impact. 


So, what's up with the different terms? I have no idea... They can be used interchangeably, in my opinion. 




This is how I use them: 
Service Projects are what we do for the 2nd meeting each month (yes, every month. My Cadettes have 2 meetings. 1st meeting of the month is a badge meeting, 2nd is a service project meeting). They are small projects that we can get done in one sitting. 

Take Action Projects are journey related. They don't have to be, but that's when we have done them. They are larger in scale and somehow spreads the word or makes an impact on a community. We have made power pins for a woman's shelter (beads of varying colors and each bead represents something). We have done a building audit and reported the findings to our council at a program center. We have done a poster campaign in a middle school for anti-bullying. It takes longer, more thought, and has an impact.

Community Service is not when you get in trouble with the law and pick up trash along a road... at least, I hope your troop hasn't done anything for court-mandated community service... To me, anything that we do in correlation with another group, is community service. When we help Marine Parents pack care packages, that is an opportunity to help out our community. Another example is when we helped the Children's Hospital plant a learning garden. They provided everything and we just showed up to stick plants in the dirt. 

All of these are forms of Giving Back. You can also work with the girls to find other ways to Give Back... such as pots and pans for the FACs room or silverware for the church. We didn't have hands-on work to do, but we used cookie money or something to fulfill a need for another group. 

No matter what you call it or how you do it, I encourage you to talk to your girls and come up with a plan to "make the world a better place". Warm fuzzies all around!!

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