Local Girl Scout Troop Helps Neighbors in Need

Girl Scout Troop 1482’s Blessing Box helps fight hunger in Broken Arrow with the help of the community.

In the east parking lot of First United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow, a green wooden box stands tall atop a wooden pole, groceries and other necessities visible through its etched glass door. This is Girl Scout Troop 1482’s Blessing Box. Earlier this year, seven of the troop’s Junior members planned, built, and stocked the box in hopes of uniting their community with the common goal of fighting hunger and helping those in need. Since the official ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 21, the box has been a place for both giving and receiving.

Fourth- and fifth-grade Girl Scouts Miraya, Paige, Madalynn, Lillian, Kyndal, Aubyn and Ashtyn created the Blessing Box in Broken Arrow for their Junior Bronze Award project. According to troop leader Andrea Sagely, “The Girl Scout Bronze Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve. As a team, the girls explore their community, evaluate where help is needed, and plan a sustainable community action project.” As part of the requirements to earn their Bronze Award, each of the girls devoted over 20 hours of time to working on the project.

Given the many needs present in the community and the array of worthy causes to support, the Scouts had many sources of inspiration while brainstorming potential project ideas. The girls each presented an idea to the troop for consideration, and everyone voted for the idea they felt would most benefit the community. In the end, the Blessing Box was chosen, and the hard work began.

From start to finish, the process of creating the Blessing Box was quite an undertaking, as the girls were responsible for everything from coming up with a workable design for the structure and building the box itself, to organizing food drives and soliciting donations from local businesses. Of the building process, Lillian said, “It took a very long time to get the design right and it took even longer to build it. We used saws, hammers, wood glue, drills, shovels, cement, paint and planning!”

Along the way, the troop received plenty of support and guidance from Sagely, who is the district STEM Instructional Specialist and Robotics Director for Broken Arrow Public Schools, as well as from Mickey Jester, grandfather of one of the Scouts, who not only helped the girls with the design process, but also taught the girls how to use power tools and provided instruction throughout the building process.

Of course, while fun is an important component of many Girl Scout projects, an emphasis is always placed on developing important life skills and learning from experience. In order for the Blessing Box to become a reality, the Scouts were required to delve into public speaking by making two presentations to the board of trustees at First United Methodist Church to gain approval to utilize the church property, located at 112 E. College. The girls also had to write emails and make their own phone calls to businesses to solicit donations. Understandably, these requirements were initially a bit daunting for some of the girls, as Madalynn candidly noted: “I learned life skills like making professional phone calls, emails and presentations. I didn’t enjoy that part, but I learned a lot.” All in all, the project proved to be helpful to the Scouts as well as to the community, as it provided an opportunity for team-based fun, while also nudging the girls out of their comfort zones and teaching them the importance of conquering fears.

To ensure that the Blessing Box is as effective as possible, Sagely said the troop has kept the process simple.

“The instructions are easy,” she said. “If you need something, take something. If you have something, leave something. There are no regulations on what people can take. The hope is that people will just take what they need.”

So far, the Blessing Box has been doing very well, both in terms of donations and community use. “The Broken Arrow community has really adopted the Blessing Box as their own,” said Sagely, who noted that some people even let the troop know when they’ve made a donation by posting messages or tagging the Facebook page created for the Blessing Box. The Facebook page also provides the girls with a way to let everyone know when the box is in need of more groceries, and Sagely says the box is filled back up within only a few hours.

Just as the Blessing Box is being used by those who wish to donate, it also is fulfilling its ultimate purpose by serving those in need.

According to Miraya, “My favorite part is restocking the box, because it shows that things are being used from the box.”

For all of the girls, it is a wonderful feeling to know that they have made a positive difference in the community. As Aubyn said: “Anyone who wants to help others can. They just have to try.  It’s a great feeling, and I think everyone should do it.”

If you would like to donate to the Blessing Box, nonperishable, nonexpired groceries and other hygiene items needed include peanut butter; canned fruits, vegetables, meats and beans; fruit cups; crackers; dry pasta; shelf milk; cereal; kid-friendly snacks; tea; coffee; bottled water; soap; deodorant; toilet paper; and baby items, such as diapers and wipes.

To learn more about Troop 1482’s Blessing Box in Broken Arrow, visit www.facebook.com/brokenarrowblessingbox.

Categories: Big Kids