Girl Scouts has always been a force for good in times of need. Giving back to the community through service projects has long been a part of Girl Scouts’ history, whether planting victory gardens during WWII (logging an impressive 48,068 hours working on farms in 1942) or holding speak-outs in the 1960s to discuss ways to eliminate prejudice. As COVID-19 brings challenging and uncertain times, Girl Scouts all over the world have the opportunity to lead in their communities and band together across the Girl Scout Movement.
I know what you are thinking, “How can I make a difference in my community when we are practicing social distancing and staying at home?” While it may seem difficult to help others while avoiding group gatherings, we know Girl Scouts are pros at using resources wisely and thinking outside the box. There are many ways you can reach out to others from the safety of home. Here are five difference-making ideas to get you started!
Make New Friends
We are only a short time into practicing social distancing, but it doesn’t take long before it has an impact on your mood, focus, and energy. Imagine how that must feel for our neighbors in nursing homes or assisted living communities that are no longer accepting visitors? You know how the song goes…Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold. Reach out to a local nursing home or assisted living center and see if they are open to receiving letters or emails (do check first, as some locations may prefer to stick with electronic communication that they can print for residents, to limit the spread of germs). Perhaps you or someone in your troop has a friend or family member you can connect with. Or maybe you will make a new pen-pal friend!
Spread Neighborly Cheer
I’ve noticed something special happening these last few days that I wasn’t seeing before. Everyone is taking a walk around the neighborhood! Is it the same where you live? Little kids, big kids, strollers, bikes, dogs—people are taking a family stroll together. Which makes sense, right? It’s an easy way to get outside while keeping our distance. With so many people walking by, why not create signs that say hello and offer words of encouragement. You can place signs in your yard or in a window. You could even break out the chalk and add fun drawings and messages to the sidewalk.
Girl Scout Scavenger Hunt
You can help keep the Girl Scout sisterhood strong by starting a window scavenger hunt in your neighborhood. This idea is popping up on social media—so why not start your own Girl Scout-themed one! Adults can share your plans on social media sites and community groups like Facebook and Nextdoor. Draw, paint, or cut out a trefoil. Or, print out this example and decorate to your heart’s content. Then, place it in a window for others to find. When you and your fellow neighbors are out for a daily walk, everyone can play along. It’s just another small way to build community and feel connected to one another.
Send Encouragement to Those on the Front Lines
There are so many who are working to keep people healthy and safe. Do you know a nurse who would appreciate having a Girl Scout lead a virtual activity to occupy their kids for an hour? What about a neighbor who works at a grocery store who could use a thank-you message? Reach out to those in your network and see how you can help. Even a friendly phone call to say “Hello, I’m thinking of you” can make a world of difference.
Make a Public Service Announcement (PSA)
We have all been hearing the importance of washing your hands and practicing social distancing. So why not make your own public service announcement to share with friends and family? Make a video on proper hand-washing techniques set to your favorite camp song. Design a poster that reminds people to practice social distancing. Create art with a reassuring or educational message. Check out these free downloads by artist Ricardo Levins Morales to inspire you. Once you are finished, share your PSA with friends and family by email or text.
However you decide to help others during this time, gather friends to participate with you (virtually, of course)! The more people you gather, the bigger impact you’ll have!
Emily Schmall – Emily is the Senior Manager of Program Resources at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and has a background in visual arts, education, curriculum development, and volunteer management. Emily was a Girl Scout growing up and now leads her daughter’s troop of spirited teenagers. She lives in the St. Paul area where she enjoys hanging with the fam and going on adventures with their rescue dog, Dory. In her (non-Girl Scout related) free time, Emily enjoys photography, playing the ukulele, and attending the Minnesota State Fair.