By: Tiffany Davies
Did you know that according to Floridavets.org, there are 1,525,400 veterans in the State of Florida? Florida is the third-largest veteran population in the nation, behind California with 1,681,730 veterans and Texas with 1,584,844 veterans. To honor these brave men and women who have given so much, Girl Scouts have tons of opportunities to activate and show support.
In November 2020, we worked with volunteers and troops to participate in the veteran basket Girl Scout challenge. We enlisted all of you to create baskets to help us thank veterans at the Bay Pines VA Hospital with our first ever: Caravan of Kindness. Our goal was to collect 100 baskets to donate, which represented one per bed at their facility. Due to an impending storm, we canceled the original caravan date, but a few days later, we hosted the caravan and exceeded our goal by collecting 120 baskets! It was great to see, and great to be a part of and a great-added bonus was that our council and some of our girls and troops were the recipients of some grant awards to support their Girl Scout experience further.
This was a great start, and we all felt pretty good, but we knew we
wanted to do more! This year we assembled a small but mighty group of
volunteers to help us imagine all of the ways we could give back and
show our support to our local veterans. We have come up with a vision
to include plans that start in November and offer continued support in
December and even throughout the following year. Perhaps most
importantly, not only do we have a goal of showing our support for our
veterans in Pinellas County but extending to show our support in
Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Polk, and Sumter
And that, my friends, is where you come in! We have a list of events
that you can join in with (the more, the merrier), but we also want to
plant the seeds for programs you can do on your own, in your counties,
and in your communities to demonstrate the power and affect Girl
Scouts has to make the world a better place.
Here is a flyer that shows just a few of the ways that you can get
involved. From parades
baskets to wreaths,
these are just some ways for all Girl Scouts to get involved. We will
be updating this blog post as we learn of more opportunities from both
the committee and YOU… that is right, YOU! If you are participating in
any way to honor and support our veterans, we want to know about
Message Tdavies@gswcf.org to
have your event included on future flyers or used in social media
promotions, especially if you are open to some of your Girl Scout
sisters joining you. While this is not required, let us make some new
friends while we are at it. We need to know the name of the event/
program, the date/ time, a brief description of the activity, and who
Parade Notes: Troops or Juliette
members that sign up to participate are responsible for their adult/
girl safety ratio. The organizers of the Girl Scout group in this
parade (Rainbow Service Unit) are taking care of their Girl Scouts.
This is not a drop-off event. Participants are encouraged to make
greeting cards to show their appreciation for veterans along the
parade route. Use social tags: @gswcf #SupportOurVeterans
Veteran Baskets: In addition to
participation at the Caravan of Kindness at Bay Pines, troops and
individual Girl Scouts are encouraged to show their appreciation to
our veterans by bringing baskets of treats to veterans in assisted
living facilities in their communities. To be eligible to receive a
grant from Wounded Warriors Family Support, share photos of your
baskets with them and us on Facebook.
Award money comes in the form of a check made out to Girl Scouts of
West Central Florida and is drawn by the awardee(s) for Girl Scout
membership, programs, and merchandise or to support necessary
purchases for high awards. Visit Veteran Baskets
for more information. Use social tags: @gswcf
Important Note: Due to various food allergies and dietary restrictions, the VA is strict about what is acceptable for baskets. Here are some ideas of what you include instead:
- Large print puzzle books
- Back scratchers
- Non-slip socks
- Rays/Lightning/Bucs cap, magnet, keychain, etc.
- Lip balm
- Nail kit (clippers, files, orange stick, etc.)
- Tissue pack
- Playing cards
- Adult coloring books
- Coloring pencil set
Wreaths Notes: This is not a council organized event/ program. If you are interested in participating, please reach out to WreathsAmericaTampa@gmail.com to get signed up. If you know of other Wreaths across America events within West Central Florida, please share so we can connect more Girl Scouts.
If you have any questions, contact Tiffany Davies, VP of Outreach Development and Grants, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 262-1792.