girl scouts

Earlier in February I urged everyone I knew to create some smiles for others for Valentine’s Day. This is something we have done as a family for years even before getting involved with Girl Scouts. We get friends and family involved in making cards or being a part of our service projects and this year we put the word out to my online network as well as to a couple local schools.

We have a small Troop right now of six girls and these kids were able to deliver over 300 handmade cards to the Veterans Hospital. That was empowering for them. When we sorted through the cards and made our final count they were in awe of the response.

It made them feel like they can do anything if they work at it and that is a feeling I hope that sticks with them.

Additionally, we had dozens of online friends who reached out to their local community to take action and make a difference in someone’s life. This was an opportunity to talk about how we can make a difference in other people’s lives who aren’t in our own community. The power of influence can spread very far if you try hard enough.

The Valentine’s cards and candies they got from their classmates was exciting for the day but it’s the cards for a cause that made the loving memories.

For those of you who took the time to pass the word along and those of you who participated we thank you all. If you missed this idea… we look forward to next year!

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My Daughter's Girl Scout Cookie Monster Outfit Thanks to her Auntie

There were big obstacles in our way to getting my daughter involved in Girl Scouts. My daughter’s health hurdles and life threatening food allergies make it hard to be just another participant so it was best for her that I take a leadership role.

The reality is that expecting others to make the right and fair accommodations for your food allergic child is unrealistic. Sometimes you have to just get shit done yourself and that is how we roll…

In case you didn’t know… Being a Troop Leader is a crapton of work! However, it is very rewarding. Sure, there are a lot of headaches and stressful situations along the way but it balances out. I am able to ensure that there is no exclusion for my daughter within her own Troop and that all activities are safe for her. We, thankfully, have amazing families who totally get how unpredictable things become for us.

The other concern I had was product sales since it seemed cruel to ask her to sell something that could potentially kill her.

There was still the issue of fundraising by selling foods that can harm her. Not participating in sales means the Troop loses out on important funding for all the projects they want to tackle. It is also a wonderful introduction to business and what being an entrepreneur is like.

She always had the option to not participate in Fall Product Sales (Nuts and Magazines) and Cookie sales in the Spring. I explained the dialog to expect when selling and we discussed how it could make her feel. Most people will ask a Girl Scout what their favorite cookies are… but what if you can’t eat it? Is that question going to jab at her young heart?

She decided early on that she wanted to sell with her Troop because it would help. It was a huge hurdle for her and a very hard decision. She hasn’t been without painful moments and awkward times where she can’t relate to the people who love the cookies she sells. Those negatives are far outweighed by her determination and the happiness she gets from meeting her goals.

She works her butt off. She tries her hardest. She feels empowered and she finds her own ways of dealing with the obstacles in a positive way.

Last year her efforts paid off and she was able to get in to the 500 Club. She donated her incentives to the local Children’s Hospital since she saw the 500 Club Party and accomplishments as her reward. It was a fun day for her and I to spend with other Girl Scouts at a huge outdoor party.

She knows that by participating in Girl Scout Cookie sales that she is making a difference. She is driven not only by her goal setting but by the money raised funds our community service projects.

Her favorite thing to say to customers is “Thank you for helping me make a difference.”

I’m very proud of her and had expected some of this determination to lose it’s hype. It’s only intensified. This year her health is more challenging and she is more fatigued than usual with a lot of gastrointestinal issues but she is powering through it. She has her regular supporters that are happy to help her in her cause.

And while her determination creates a ton more work both as a Leader and a Mom I am happy to be right by her side and cheering her on.

Even if my living room looks like this during Cookie Season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve felt that one of the biggest struggles with raising children is teaching them selflessness in this instant gratification society. It can be a scary concept for children to know some of the struggles around the world but it can also be a wonderful tool for growth.

Even in the hardest economic times we should set aside what we can to give back. It’s good for us and especially our children. That cycle of selflessness starts with us and we pave the path of philanthropy for our children.

It’s especially important for our family to be involved with giving back since my daughter has regularly received the benefits of non-profits that help children who are chronically ill. We want to give back both to those organizations as well as others in different ways.

We are actively involved in community service and it is a huge part of our family dynamic. Sometimes it’s as simple as buying a $5 gift card and taking it to the women’s shelter or sometimes it’s as large as organizing a fund raiser for Japan Relief.

We are always looking for different ways to help. It’s really hard to find a connection with causes that seem distant from us. I want my kids to understand that they can make a difference with a simple act and it can amount to great things.

Then I was introduced to Members Unite and felt this was another amazing way for us to help.

Members Unite is a great way to fund projects. The decision on what to fund is in the member’s hands. As a member you vote on different projects which are all very unique and interesting. I’ve never even heard of some of these ideas!

The best part is what both my nine and four year old took from this. I explained what the project was and how our $5 donation is pooled together with hundreds of other members and we, as a team, make a difference. We are able to rate each project as a family and think on what projects we like the most.

There was also great dialog in “losing” if our favorite projects weren’t picked because no matter what someone is winning at the end of the month.

Now that my nine year old daughter regularly earns allowance she told me she wanted to become a member herself with Members Unite so we could be making a double difference.

Some of the topics can be hard like the project to help infants from Guatemala who struggle with pertinent nourishment… but it was also an opportunity to talk about how fortunate we have been to not be faced with that and more importantly, that we can help.

The easiest way to help is to give what you would spend at Starbucks or those impulse purchases at Target. But, to make that donation have a bigger impact on your family you can be involved in a community of giving.

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It’s Girl Scout cookie season and philanthropy is fresh in my mind right now. I always become inspired by my girls in their cookie selling efforts and the ways they want to use that money to give back to their community.

It’s not just about cookies! It is about teaching my Scouts to understand business practices, profits, budgets and balancing the fun things we do with our earnings as well as service projects.

More often than not the focus is on how to help others with that money we earn. It is inspiring.

My daughter regularly thanks her cookie purchasers for assisting her in making a difference.

My daughter told me last year that she wants to be a business woman so she can make a lot of money to give to those who need it. That has been a huge topic since then. She understands what a sponsorship is and how large and small companies give money to organizations in needs.

She wanted to learn about companies that do this and why. We have done a lot of research and learned a lot together. Okay, we are a little strange I suppose. These are the things that we bond over.

When I was introduced deeper to Toyota which is launching their second 100 Cars for Good Campaign and when I told her about it she said, “See, that’s what I want to do! How many cookies do we need to sell to give someone a Toyota car?”

The ambitious gleam in her eye was wonderful and scary! I explained that we could do a lot but maybe buying someone a car would be out of our cookie range at the moment!

In 100 Days Toyota gives 100 cars to 100 charitable organizations.

That is a whole bunch of cars!

You can read more on their FAQ page. I’m going to quote part of it because I found it really powerful.

“Toyota believes that motor vehicles, and the mobility they provide, can also be vehicles for change to contribute to the betterment of society.”

On March 12th they will open the flood gates for applications and will close submissions on March 26th or until they reach 5,000. On May 12th everyone who visits Toyota’s Facebook page can help vote for the winners! Even if I can’t give someone a car it is rewarding to spread the word about this and be a part of the voting process.

Please take the time to watch the video. Share this if it motivates you and please be a part of it. And I will take a lesson from my daughter and say:

Thank you to all Toyota owners. Supporting this company makes a difference in all of our communities and I am very appreciative of that.

Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.

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It is easy to get sucked in to the season of finding the greatest deals for our kids, making sure they have the hot items and that everyone is spoiled during the gift giving season. Every year I try to redirect the focus for my kids to think about others. We are always doing small community service projects but this we decided to take on a different project.

Last week we taught the girls in my Girl Scout Troop how to sew for the first time. This was really exciting for them especially since we worked it in to a community service project. My co-leader found this rad tutorial online for a reversible stocking. We were able to get them done with the group of 4th graders and one 1st grader in about an hour. Not too bad!

We are stuffing these stockings for the local rescue mission. They provided a suggested list of items for the stockings for children and adults. If you take on this project then contact your local women’s shelters, children’s hospitals and rescue missions to see where you can donate. This would also be a great donation for a retirement home filled with appropriate goodies for the residents there.

This has been a wonderful family activity and we even took a few older stockings we have and started to fill those. We want to provide two stockings from each of us. The kids are even contributing money to pay for items out of their own savings.

Here are some ideas we got from the Rescue Mission:

Boys: sports balls, Hot Wheels, cartoon and super hero Band-Aids, puzzles, pens/pencils, crayons, notepads, coloring books, stickers, small story books, yo-yo’s, books, comic books.

Girls: Barrettes, headbands, clips/bows, necklaces, bracelets, rings, coin purses, stickers, pencils/pens, erasers, crayons, note pads, coloring books, small story books, jump ropes, fancy shoe laces, nail care items bubble bath items.

Teens/Adults: Key chains, word search books, crossword puzzles, combs, lotions, kandkerchiefts, scarves, perfumes, slippers, playing cards, novels, athletic gear.

Other ideas: Origami, bookmarks, crazy straws, glow sticks, mini flashlights, comfy socks, hat and glove sets. Some local charities need the necessities for their residents so think of adding items like hotel soaps, gifts in a jar, gift cards to grocery stores or personal care sets!

I’m sure you can think of a ton of different things to add to your stockings! It really depends on where you plan on donating them to and every item will bring a smile to someone’s face.

Want to do something a little further? Organize a Stocking Stuffing Playdate! Don’t worry you don’t have to teach everyone to sew! Ask your friends and family to come with a stocking (or two) and items to use to donate to a cause. If everyone brings extras to share for each stocking that makes it more magical. Make it a potluck… because every gathering is better with snacks!

If you want to get really ambitious ask your school, church or local shop to allow you to take in donations for the stockings. The more donated items the better. My daughter asked neighbors if they have anything they want to donate and the response has been wonderful.

Tis the season everyone! If you have any other ideas for this project please share them! I’d love to hear your stories if you complete this project!

 

 

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