Oftentimes a Silver Award project that a Girl Scout chooses makes an impact in her immediate community, but depending on the project, a girl may reach beyond her local area and help those who live far away.
This is the case for Hudson Girl Scout, Kelley.
Kelley was looking for a Silver Award project that would make a difference. When searching for the right project idea, she spoke with people at various organizations, and discovered how she wanted to help after speaking with her pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church.
Pastor John Lestock had led mission trips to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in the past. He had just started planning for Bethel’s first trip to the reservation, and he was hoping to bring school supplies to donate to Wolf Creek School, one of the schools on the reservation. Wolf Creek School is located in Shannon County, one of the poorest counties in the United States. Parents struggle to buy school supplies, leaving school officials trying to figure out how to teach lessons when many students lack basic essentials.
The moment Kelley heard about the effort, she knew leading a school supply drive was the project for her. Kelley spent the summer requesting, collecting, and organizing the supplies. In addition to asking people to support her efforts with their own donations, Kelley used her talents as an artist to create original greeting cards and sold them. With her profits, Kelley and her mom Cindy scoured the back-to-school sales. At each store, Kelley would explain her project, and managers would often offer their stock at great discounts. The managers were happy to unload the merchandise, and Kelley’s collection of school supplies quickly grew to 1,039 pounds, filling the family’s basement.
In early October, twenty people from Bethel Lutheran loaded the supplies into vans and made the 11-hour journey to Pine Ridge. It was the first time Kelley had been on a mission trip, and she was excited to see the school and meet the people who would benefit from the donations.
Kelley was one of four kids on the four-day trip. She loved the opportunity to tour the school and interact with the school children during lunch. She also had the chance to visit important historical sites that marked the history between the Lakota and U.S. government as well as meet residents to gain a better understanding of their culture.
Throughout her project, Kelley demonstrated active leadership by educating people through poster boards, flyers, the newspaper, and speaking with people about statistics at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Changed by the experience of donating to the school and meeting the children and teachers, Kelley has already volunteered to collect school supplies next year and wants other girls to know that that you don’t have to be older to tackle a project that can impact people’s lives.