The Giving Challenge. Has it already been two years? It seems like just yesterday, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida partnered with the Library Foundation for Sarasota County for a unique, all-ages campaign called “Be The One: Make Reading S’more Fun!” From our treasured childhood storybooks to the favorites we enjoy in retirement, reading is a fundamental part of life for all ages—and philanthropy should be, too! By engaging the entire community in a children’s book drive for our public libraries, we provided opportunities for young and old alike to make a difference in their community.
It all culminated with “Campfire Stories,” an evening event held at our Gulfcoast Event and Conference center. More than 100 attendees of all ages enjoyed games and activities, a photo booth, and stories around a cardboard “campfire.” Collectively, our book drive and event were designed to illustrate how everyone, from preschoolers to retirees, can come together to celebrate giving, reading, and the importance of working together for the greater good. When all was said and done, we had collected over 300 books, thanks to Girl Scouts troops, community partners, and individuals from across the area.
We also raised vital funds to support program scholarships for girls in need, unique programming opportunities, camp maintenance and enhancements, and other basic needs of our council—all to help us meet our mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Two years later, amid a global crisis, our mission seems particularly relevant as we continue to concentrate on the greater good.
As part of our 2020 Giving Challenge theme, “Be the One to Honor,” Girl Scouts are participating in a council-wide service project, “Across the Generations.” Girls and their families are honoring our senior citizens by sending cards, pictures, and letters to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to help ease the stress and loneliness that so many seniors are facing right now. You can follow this project through social media with the hashtag, #AcrossTheGenerations.
Troops are honoring the hometown heroes who are working exceptionally hard during this crisis by donating Girl Scout cookie inventory to first responders, hospitals, food pantries, and other hard-hit organizations. And, as they do each year, Girl Scouts honored our military and veterans by selling cookies for our Mints for the Military donation program. By honoring others, our girls are also honoring our deepest-held Girl Scout tradition: to make the world a better place.
While our in-person programs and troop meetings have been temporarily suspended, you can rest assured that Girl Scouting is not canceled! Through a variety of virtual and at-home programming options, Girl Scouts are learning new things, earning badges, and exploring the world around them, all from the safety and comfort of home (learn more on our website). We look forward to the time when we can all be together in person again, but in the meantime, life goes on. And so does Girl Scouting!
With 1:1 matches up to $100 per unique donor gift from The Patterson Foundation, and additional cash prizes in a variety of categories, the Giving Challenge (presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County) offers an amazing fundraising opportunity. But this year, the Giving Challenge also reminds us why philanthropy should be a fundamental part of life for all ages. We can all do our part, in whatever form that may take—from a hand-drawn card to brighten someone’s day, to a monetary donation to support powerful Girl Scout programming. So, this year, #BeTheOne… in whatever way you can.
Lori Tomlinson is the Grants and Communications Manager for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.