Eight girls of Cadette Girl Scout Troop 2522 will soon have reason to celebrate. On June 7th the girls from Larchmont and Mamaroneck will receive the Silver Award, the highest award that can be earned at this level of Girl Scouting.
Some of these girls have been together in this troop since first grade and have done their share of camping, community service and cookie selling, but for the past three years, their efforts have been concentrated on earning the Silver. After spending two years completing the prerequisite requirements, the girls selected two projects and set out on their quest to each log 40 hours working towards the completion of the award.
Start At the House
The first project involved the Larchmont Girl Scout House on Harmon Drive. The cadettes wanted to improve the outdoor area around the house. They conducted several fundraisers and purchased two picnic tables to put near the existing outdoor fire pit. They also participated in a community wide “Girl Scout Spirit Day” activity on April 24th, which included planting, clearing out leaves and debris and also painting the exterior of the house.
“The house is a big improvement.,” said troop member Sarah Axelrad. “Because of this, the outside space will be used more and it will be a great place for the Girl Scouts in our community to spend time in.”
Next, Clothe the Kids
The girls’ second project involved providing start-up assistance to The Sharing Shelf, a new organization whose mission is to collect, sort and then distribute gently used children’s clothing to needy families across Westchester County. The Sharing Shelf was the brainstorm of two New Rochelle moms, Deborah Blatt and Stephanie Roth. They brought the idea to Family Services of Westchester who agreed to help them develop the concept further. But without a location or staff, the two women faced big challenges. An organization called Ardsley Cares had already collected 65 bags of clothing for them, but the Sharing Shelf had no way to distribute what was collected. This gave Troop 2522 an idea for starting their Silver Award project.
Over the course of two weeks in November and December, the girls gathered at the Girl Scout House in Larchmont, and along with other Girl Scouts in the community, they sorted, bagged and labeled all 65 bags of clothing. With the clothing then sorted by gender, size, clothing type and season, the Sharing Shelf could actually begin filling requests from local shelters and Head Start Programs. Westie’s of Port Chester generously provided two temporary storage units, and before Christmas, over 100 children in Westchester had received packages of clothing.
Ms. Roth told the girls that she saw children wearing clothing that was too small or ripped, teenage boys who needed clothing to wear to work and kids going to school in the winter without a coat. “The families receiving the clothing were very grateful. They picked up the packages and left with tremendous smiles on their faces,” said Ms. Roth.
After sorting all the clothes, the girls met with Ms. Roth and Ms. Blatt to share their suggestions on sorting and labeling and to raise questions that would need to be resolved, such as what to do with bathing suits, dress up clothes and the occasional stuffed animal that found its way into the bags. The women said, “The girls learned a lot about the sorting process and provided The Sharing Shelf with a lot of useful information based on their experiences. All of their suggestions and efforts helped to shape our operation and how it currently functions.”
The girls continued to help the Sharing Shelf throughout the year. They organized a drive for new socks, underwear, and disposable diapers. They also raised money to purchase needed equipment and staffed a Sharing Shelf information table at the Westchester Mall. And they have become clothes sorting experts! Including the initial two week “Clothes Sorting Marathon” they have collectively spent over 125 hours sorting children’s clothing which was collected through drives held at Larchmont Temple and Salesian High School as well as clothing donated after several large community tag sales. They have also donated many clothes from their own closets and received donations from numerous Girl Scout families.
Troop Leader Pat Allen is very proud of the girls’ accomplishments. “When the our troop first got involved, The Sharing Shelf was only a concept and 65 bags of clothing being stored in a woman’s garage,” she said. “The Girl Scouts really pushed the Sharing Shelf along and were a key element in getting it to where it is today.”
The Sharing Shelf now has a temporary location in Rye and a small group of volunteers who come weekly to sort clothing. The organizers are pleased to report that they have filled requests for over 300 children in need. Ms. Blatt and Ms. Roth said they have great hopes for the future of the Sharing Shelf. “Our goal is to greatly expand the distribution of clothing to needy children in Westchester. Each month we are receiving more requests for clothing and shoes. As our reputation and awareness grows, so will our ability to serve more people. We are looking to expand the number of days and volunteers that work at The Sharing Shelf. It would be ideal to see clothing drives and donations come in steadily to the warehouse and clothing packaged go out at the same rate to needy children. We also continue to look for affordable permanent warehouse space.”
If you are interested in helping the Sharing Shelf with clothing donations, organizing a clothing drive, volunteering or securing warehouse space, please contact Deborah Blatt or Stephanie Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alba Gallego de Dios is a member of Girl Scout Troop 2522.