Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gift of Caring

Girl Scout Senior Anne and Girl Scout Cadette Amanda
from Troop 558 display a poster about We Care Marines,
the organization they support through Gift of Caring.
There’s a lot more to Girl Scout Cookies than what’s in the box, and this rings especially true for the girls who are members of Girl Scout Troop 558 in Virginia Beach. Since 2011, In addition to selling cookies to customers throughout the city, the girls have sold nearly 700 extra boxes of Girl Scout Cookies through Gift of Caring, a community service project through which Girl Scouts sell extra cookies and donate them to a local charity.

The members of Girl Scout Troop 558 donate their Gift of Caring cookies to We Care Marines, a memorial fund set up by Wendy Childers of Chesapeake in memory of her son Cody, a Marine who was killed in Afghanistan in August 2010. Through the memorial fund, care packages are sent in Cody’s name to deployed Marines to help keep Cody’s memory alive, as well as thank those who are currently serving overseas. We Care Marines has sent more than 3,100 care packages to Marines filled with Cody’s favorite things, including ear buds, movies and lots of snacks.

Girl Scout Troop 558 decided to support We Care Marines through the Gift of Caring program after reading a story about the organization in the newspaper in February 2011. That year, they donated 206 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to the cause. At their cookie booths, Troop 558 proudly displays a poster about We Care Marines and Lance Corporal Cody Childers to share his story and encourage their cookie customers to buy an extra box of Girl Scout Cookies to bring a smile to the face of a member of the military serving our country.

This year, local Girl Scouts sold over 17,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies that were donated to organizations throughout the area as part of the Gift of Caring program. The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the nation’s largest girl-led business and the leading financial literacy and entrepreneurial program for girls. Through the cookie program, girls learn skills that will last them a lifetime, including goal setting, decision making, people skills, business ethics and money management.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Helping Hands Food Drive

Girl Scout Brownie Troop 174 from Virginia Beach on a tour
of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia with Julie Braley,
marketing and business relations director with the food bank.
Community service has been a cornerstone of Girl Scouting since Juliette Gordon Low first founded the organization over 100 years ago. During the month of April, local Girl Scouts are making a difference in the community through the Helping Hands Food Drive, an annual community service project to help stock area food banks and food pantries. On Saturday, April 5, Girl Scouts had the opportunity to take a tour of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia in Norfolk to learn about how food is collected and distributed, hear about hunger statistics in the community and find out ways that they can help.

On the tour, Girl Scouts visited the different functional areas of the food bank, including where volunteers sort food and check expiration dates, where food is delivered, stored and distributed and where partner agencies can come “shop” and choose items to stock their pantries. They also learned about the programs run by the food bank, including the Backpack Program that distributes food through schools to children who are food insecure and do not always know where their next meal will come from and the Mobile Pantry that delivers food to people who cannot travel to a food pantry.

During the tours, Debbie Mergi, corporate outreach manager with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, pointed out the many empty shelves inside the food bank warehouse. She talked about how hunger is on everybody’s mind during the holidays, but they need donations all year long, especially as summer nears and children will not have access to meals at school.

“Your food drive is so important because it reminds people that there are going to be children without food this summer,” Mergi told the Girl Scouts.

Members of Girl Scout Troop 843 inside the sorting room at the
Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia during a tour of the facility on April 5.

Across the Commonwealth of Virginia, 12.7 percent of the population is food insecure. That means that over 912,000 people in the Commonwealth do not know from where their next meal will come. In North Carolina, 19.3 percent of people are food insecure. These percentages are even higher when looking just at children (16.5 percent in Virginia and 27.3 percent in North Carolina), and food insecurity among children can affect their cognitive development and school performance. Last year, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia served 14.2 million meals, helping almost 400,000 people who struggle with hunger in the community.

Throughout the month of April, Girl Scouts will be collecting food in a variety of ways, from placing collection boxes at schools and churches to asking their friends, family members and neighbors to donate food items. On Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to noon, Girl Scouts and the public can drop off donations at locations found here.

View a shopping list of most needed items by the food banks here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Troop Capitol Hill

In March, Lily, a Girl Scout Cadette from Chesapeake, represented Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast as the only Girl Scout invited to speak at a national congressional briefing hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA Troop Capitol Hill in Washington DC. She spoke about her experience with the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast’s advocacy committee, which allows adult and teen members to speak up for policies that support the well-being of girls through addressing policy makers and fellow stakeholders. She also shared her experiences that were directly related to bullying and relational aggression in school, and how she has learned to navigate unhealthy social situations in a way that allows her to overcome the scenario and recognize the positive people in her life.

Sally Schaeffer, director of public policy with
Girl Scouts of the USA, Girl Scout Cadette Lily, and 
Dr. Kamla Modi with the Girl Scout Research Institute
Lily was joined at the briefing by Marcy Germanotta, communications director for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast. Germanotta offered perspective on what Girl Scouts in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina does to address issues of physical and emotional health, education, leadership and other topics covered in The State of Girls: Unfinished Business, a study conducted by  the Girl Scout Research Institute. She discussed community partnerships that Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast has developed to engage girls in out-of-school activities, thereby giving girls the opportunity to avoid unhealthy and unproductive behaviors by providing a safe environment with peers they can relate to and role models they can look up to.

Read more about the experience on the Girl Scouts of the USA blog.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gold Award Spotlight: Reaching New Altitudes

Girl Scout Ambassador Lauren from Newport News recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest honor and achievement in Girl Scouting. For her project, Lauren wanted to create an opportunity for local youth to gain knowledge in the fields of aviation, aerospace and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

She created lesson plans to teach children in local community groups about the fundamentals of flight, the importance of STEM as a whole and about resources they can use to pursue interests in STEM, including local museums, events and summer camps. Lauren led activities that allowed children to build airplane models, see things fly and learn about aviation history.

Lauren chose this project because she recognizes a trend in education that focuses on children passing standardized tests, rather than encouraging children to pursue innovative thoughts and be challenged in the fields that interest them. By creating opportunities for children to be engaged in STEM activities, Lauren gave the children that she worked with experience, education and intrigue in the STEM fields.

“As a military child, I’ve always liked aviation,” Lauren said. “My teachings will lay a foundation for youth to build on their understanding of aviation and the role it plays in their everyday lives.”

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Lauren to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ban Bossy

Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez will be featured on the cover of Parade magazine this Sunday along with Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. These powerful women are looking to change the conversation about girls and leadership with a new campaign to Ban Bossy.

When it comes to girls' ambition, the pattern is clear: girls are discouraged from leading. When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a "leader," yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being called "bossy"- one of the many ways we inadvertently hold girls back. The Ban Bossy campaign is designed to drive national conversation about girls' leadership, as well as provide girls, troop leaders and parents with practical tips about how to encourage girls.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute, while most youth (82 percent) agree that girls and boys are equally good at being leaders, 52 percent also agree that "girls have to work harder than boys in order to gain positions of leadership."

You can access a portion of the article that will appear in Parade here. The complete article will be available in print and online on Sunday, March 9.

Virginia Legislative Day 2014

On February 27, 2014, a delegation of girl and adult members from Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast attended an annual Virginia Girl Scout Legislative Day in Richmond. A “milk and cookies” reception was held in the morning at the General Assembly Building where state delegates and senators had an opportunity to visit with various Girl Scout staff, volunteers and girl members from throughout Virginia. There are a total of five councils that serve Girl Scouts in Virginia. Introductions in the House and Senate followed the reception.

A special visit with Virginia Secretary of Education Ann Holton was held in the afternoon to discuss Girl Scout program initiatives in science, technology, engineering and math, as well as a new initiative that addresses bullying – Be a Friend First. This annual event allows Girl Scouts on leadership tracks who are interested in advocacy to speak with legislators and to help Girl Scouts promote efforts that create positive change in girls’ lives.

Left to right: GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller, Girl Scout Cadettes from Chesapeake Zoe and Lily, Girl Scout Junior Sianna from Norfolk, Virginia Secretary of Education Ann Holton (a former Girl Scout), Girl Scout Ambassador Megan and Girl Scout Seniors Anne and Amanda from Virginia Beach, and CEO of Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia Viola Baskerville.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Commission on the Status of Women

Last fall, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast received notice that we are one of four Girl Scout councils selected from across the country to send a delegation of four local Girl Scouts to the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March in New York City. Girl Scouts Morgan, Baillie and Reid from Virginia Beach and Emilia from Seaford were selected through an application process by GSCCC to represent the Council at this special session of the United Nations.

The CSW is an annual event dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. During the session, delegates work together to identify challenges facing women, discuss progress made in gender equality and make decisions about setting global standards for the worldwide empowerment of women. At this session, delegates will primarily focus on this year’s theme: elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Through participation in this opportunity, Morgan, Baillie, Reid and Emilia will gain a renewed global perspective on women’s issues. By educating them about the importance of gender equality and empowering them to work towards advancement of women worldwide, these girls will return from the CSW and share their passion for these issues to create a positive change in their communities and beyond. Stay tuned for information about events and activities these girls will be hosting in our area to share what they’ve learned.

GSCCC is dedicated to offering globally-focused programs for girls throughout the year. From travel opportunities to special workshops, there are a numerous ways for girls to be involved in global leadership activities. Check GO! for upcoming opportunities.

The trip is being generously supported by Dr. Lucy’s, a manufacturer of gluten-free, allergy-friendly cookies based in Norfolk, Va.

The girls leave on March 7, so check back soon to get live updates from New York.

From left: Dr. Lucy, Reid, Eileen (adult chaperone), Baillie, Emilia (via Skype),
Kaitlin (adult chaperone), Morgan, and Julie of Dr. Lucy's.