Girl Scouts Step up for Hunger’s End

It takes more than a global pandemic to keep Girl Scouts from making their community a better place!

Troop 21 had been planning for several months to prepare and serve two Monday meals at Hunger’s End, a nonprofit that provides a food pantry and Blessings Closet in Bradenton. The girls were already familiar with the organization, having previously donated food and toured the facility.

Troop 21 during their pre-Covid visit to Hunger's End

But they wanted to do more. So they decided as a group to use some of their Cookie Program proceeds to buy all the supplies needed to serve two Monday meals in March and April. All the plans were in place—until the COVID-19 outbreak brought their project to a standstill.

Not to be deterred, the girls and their adult leaders came up with a solution. Troop leader Michelle Cramer purchased all the meal components and delivered a portion to each of the troop member’s houses. There, the girls worked independently to prepare individual parts of the meal, chopping vegetables, cooking sloppy joe filling, assembling pasta salad, and packaging cookies for dessert. Girl Scout cookies, of course. Cramer then retrieved the foods and delivered them to Hunger’s End for their Monday Evening Community Meal on May 4.

Monday Meal

“Michelle and her team were amazing and it was so helpful to our organization to have this meal prepared to serve 200 in our community,” said Vicki Snyder, co-founder and treasurer/secretary for Hunger’s End. “We are so proud of them for wanting to help those in need in the community and honored that they chose us to be a part of it.”

The group of determined second and third graders isn’t done yet! They are planning to do it all over again in June. “The girls are so excited that we are still carrying through with our commitment and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Cramer.

“One of the fundamental goals of our program is to instill in the girls the leadership skills needed to make the world a better place,” said Mary Anne Servian, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida CEO. “Girl Scout Troop 21 is a shining example of giving back to their community.”


Lori Tomlinson is the Grants and Communications Manager for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.

Seniors enjoy virtual sing-along with Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida

By Mary Anne Servian, Chief Executive Officer

I was so proud of our Gulfcoast Girl Scouts this week when they treated local senior citizens to a virtual sing-along on April 28 as part of our “Across the Generations” council-wide service project.

We partnered with Harbor Chase in Sarasota for an old-fashioned campfire sing-along, with a virtual twist. Using an online platform, more than 100 girls, family members, and volunteers sang familiar favorites such as “The Brownie Smile Song,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low,” and “Make New Friends” to the enjoyment of assisted and independent living facility residents across the area.

Girl Scouts virtual sing-along

One of our beloved long-time volunteers, Betty Webb, shared her appreciation for the girls. “I am currently living in an independent living center and have not been able to leave the building for several weeks. Listening to the camp songs brought back some very nice memories. I thought the idea for the project was very timely and kind.”

Our council began the Across the Generations service project in March by encouraging Girl Scouts and their families to send cards, letters, and drawings to local nursing homes and other senior facilities, whose residents are feeling isolated during the COVID-19 lockdown. The virtual sing-along was also held in conjunction with the 2020 Giving Challenge.

Held April 28-29, 2020, the Giving Challenge was sponsored by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and further supported by The Patterson Foundation. Our council participated with hundreds of other nonprofits in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, and Charlotte Counties, to raise funds to help support our programs.

The Giving Challenge is all about giving back to the community, whether it’s a monetary donation to your favorite local nonprofit organizations or a simple act of kindness during these especially challenging times. Girl Scouts are well known for giving back to their communities, and on April 28, we celebrated that tradition of service in a big way, bridging “across the generations.” 

If you missed the virtual sing-along, you can still join in the fun by viewing the recording on our Youtube channel. My sincere thanks to everyone who participated in the sing-along and the Giving Challenge, and to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation for making it all possible!

Troop 257 Vows to “Stand Beside Her”

IMG_2704Several months ago, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida joined the national Stand Beside Her movement. It is a call to action for women and girls to band together and support each other, end comparison and competition, and create more collaboration. The year-round initiative was created by Girl Scouts Heart of the South, and is recognized by Girl Scout councils and other groups and organizations across the country.

Troop 257 from Sarasota took a particular interest in Stand Beside Her, and decided to take action. “Our troop is interested in community involvement and making a difference in the world,” said troop leader Jeanne Koren. Some of the girls in her troop had noticed a difference since starting middle school in the way they feel about themselves. This directly affects self-esteem, and can have a negative impact on a girl’s ability to reach her full potential. “When we looked at the [statistics] online about this it was surprising to us,” she explained.

The troop decided to kick off their own campaign with a “Chalk It Up to Being a Girl” Encouragement Project, one of several suggestions offered on the Stand Beside Her website. The concept is simple, but powerful: girls use chalk to draw outlines of their feet on a publicly visible sidewalk, and then write messages of encouragement next to them.

IMG_2703 cropThe girls drew a lot of attention during the project, which they completed at United Church of Christ Sarasota. “One man told us how he stood beside his two daughters (now grown) when their science teacher told them that girls just don’t do as well as boys in science,” Koren explained. Sadly, his daughters’ science teacher was herself a woman. Other onlookers were equally moved. “An older woman had tears in her eyes and was speechless when we told her what we were doing.”

But Troop 257 isn’t stopping there. They are also planning to meet with two school principals to have “Chalk It Ups” at their schools and girl-led awareness speeches at faculty meetings. “And,” said Koren, “we have ideas for much more!”

The troop is challenging others in the Gulfcoast Florida council to organize at least one Stand Beside Her-themed activity or event over the course of this school year. Their suggestions include:

  • Asking permission to bring in Stand Beside Her posters and post cards to hang up or distribute at your school, or asking to speak at an upcoming faculty meeting about ways in which teachers can help raise girls’ self-esteem
  • Arranging a “Chalk It Up” event at your school, church, or other organization you belong to (be sure to get the property owner’s permission first)IMG_2701 crop
  • Asking local dance studios, gymnastics centers, YMCAs, etc. to hang Stand Beside Her posters in the locker rooms where girls and women can see them
  • Asking school counselors to prepare a talk or panel presentation on ways that parents and other adults can “Stand Beside Her” and help every girl reach her potential
  • Challenging adults (including troop leaders) to do a “stand-up selfie” once a day — look in the mirror and say something to boost the confidence of that 13-year-old girl who’s still inside you
  • Starting a Stand Beside Her blog on your troop’s web page

Will you accept Troop 257’s challenge? How will you and your troop “Stand Beside Her?” Email your stories and photos to

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.