Last year and this year we have done Christmas caroling at the local nursing home. Last year we made a large wreath for the nursing home to display. This year we made individual wreaths for each resident to hang in their room. Last year, we also had the girls each bring a toy and rather than do a gift exchange we donated them all to the local toys for tots campaign.
Large wreath: Used green craft foam to cut out "holly leaves" which were then glued to a piece of round posterboard. The leaves were approximately 2" by 3" and were glued on in overlapping fashion. You can make this as big or as small as you want. Then we cut out red foam "berries" and glued them on. Make a pretty bow and place on the top. Instead of cutting out the center of the posterboard, we wrote " Merry Christmas from Brownie troop
209" and had all the girls sign their name - we did this with a pretty red marker.
Small wreaths: we were worried about cost in a project in which every resident gets one (45 residents). We got this excellant idea from our leadership conference, they had a craft workshop as one of the activities and we got a lot of ideas. Ingredients: 1/2 cup rice, 1/4 cup glue, 3 drops green food coloring. Mix all together, pour onto wax paper and form into a "wreath", add red sequins for the holly berries. Add a bow made out of 1/8" ribbon (either red or christmas colors). We added large paper clips stuck into the rice at the top for hangers (add when you make it, before the glue is dry). You may need to add some glue to your bow to get it to stick well, or you can hot glue them on after the wreath is dry if they didn't stick well. If you make a lot you will need to get a gallon of glue which I found at a Home Depot type store for about $10. I found the Christmas ribbon for 5 yds for .50. You need to figure about 10-12 inches for each bow.
I have 26 Brownies, we made enough for 45 residents at the nursing home and each girl to have one also. I had 3 mothers, my co-leader and myself to help. It's kind of messy and the girls say "ooo" but then they really get into it. Most girls made 3 some made 2. We have one physically challenged girl with Cerebral Palsy and she even enjoyed this activity. Today we will be delivering our wreaths at the nursing home to each resident and caroling also. We spent one 1 1/2 hour meeting making the wreaths and practicing our songs for this week. (and even had snacks !) I pre-measured everything for each girls first wreath into styrofoam bowls (rice) and cups (glue) and the girls used plastic spoons to stir it all up. Pre cut wax paper squares. One mom at each table helping. My co-leader and I did a lot of the bows before hand and she did the rest during the meeting. Once the girls did one, a person was stationed where they could come up and get their own rice and then an adult poured the glue into their cup and added the 3 drops of food coloring for them. When you figure how much you need for this project - buy extra and then some. I had counted and recounted and took and extra 2 lbs of rice but I had to run to the store for more rice and glue during the project. I guess the girls weren't real careful about getting exactly 1/2 cup of rice and glue is kind of hard to pour exactly out of a gallon container.
As far as the nursing home visit, I usually prepare my girls for what the residents are like etc. Because many of the girls have not been to one before and I don't want them to be shocked. I just explain that many of the people there are very ill, many in wheelchairs, some may be confused. I try to show them how to say hello and shake hands so they will not be surprised if someone comes up to them and says something.
Laurie, Brownie Troop 209
Last year our Junior troop invited other troops in the service unit to help us decorate the children's library here at Fort Leavenworth. Troops made an ornament, usually as part of a badge requirement, and either went to the library themselves to put them on the tree, or gave them to us to put up. We made signs saying what each troop had done (and why). We got a lot of positive feedback.
As examples, our troop learned about Christmas traditions in the UK (our country for Thinking Day) for our Arts Dabbler badge. We made cornucopias out of very wide velvety looking ribbon and paper lace (from the Recycle Center at Indian Springs Mall, for those of you in the Kansas City area). Another troop, who were learning about Japan for Thinking Day, made origami. Some of the Brownie troops made various ornaments that fit Try-it requirements.
This year we did our craft with our sister troop (Brownies). That way, it counts toward our Junior Aide patch and toward their bridging patch requirements.
I have a question for you all. I have experienced Juniors who are working on their Leadership pin. They have to do a Leadership Action project for their Leadership badge, another for their pin, and yet another for their Sign of the World, which our whole troop is working on this year.
The question is this. What is your "take" on the difference between a service project and a Leadership Action project. I guess my own "take" on it is that a LAP is girl-generated and girl-planned. (Although I always hope any old service project is those things as well.) Does it necessarily have to be more involved?
One of the service projects my Junior troop did was to take some used children's books and read them onto tape. Then we presented the books to a pre-school packaged together. The package each had a book and tape in a plastic bag.
The girls had a lot of fun with this as they had to read the book until they could do it with no mistakes, they added sound effects and audio tones indicating when to change pages.
My troop provides babysitting at the Elementary School's PTA meetings held monthly. The school newsletter asks for sign-ups, which are closed two days before the meeting. I'm told how many will be attending and can adjust the number of scouts if needed. The girls bring games, crafts, songs, etc. and, since we babysit in the school library, we read to the children,too. My asst. leader and I go to guide our girls, if needed, but they do well on their own. This service benefits in several ways... the PTA reports increased attendance, the parents can attend and not be distracted by the youngsters who have to come along, and the children aren't bored and trying to sit quietly through the meeting. Last month, a three year old who was reluctant to be left by Mom burst into tears when she came back to pick him up, saying that he wasn't ready to go yet! Of course, the service benefits the girls,too. To be given such responsibility has given many of the girls quite a boost in self-esteem. And the ones who have younger siblings have found a benefit to all the help they do at home - they are teaching their friends what works and what doesn't work in caring for younger children.
Other service projects in the past have included helping at the local recycling center, pulling weeds at school, planting flowers at school, and singing at the elderly care home.
Can't wait to hear others' ideas.
Just wanted to tell you about the service project that my Juniors did last year. We were tired of the doing the same project every year so we sat down and picked a new one. Here is what we did each girl donated at least 2 of her old preschool books. We requested that they be in good shape. I have a large troop so 2 was a good number, several girls donated a large amount of books. When they were all collected we made a nice box and donated them to our local Head Start Program. As most of you know the Head Start program is federally funded and don't have a lot of money to buy books. The teacher, students and some parents all sent us a very nice thank you notes. If you have any questions on this project please e-mail me privately.
Here's an example of how service evolves into leadership that I hope will be helpful.
We're a two-grade troop, so two years ago the seven fourth graders were working on the Sign of the World while the rest of the troop was still Brownies. We chose World Neighbors as the World of People badge (because the different countries aspect worked into Thinking Day), and for the "do something about world hunger" requirement, they wanted to do a food drive. Believe it or not, I couldn't find a local agency who wanted this (I was new to the community and have since found better information), but in the phone calls I found one soup kitchen in a church who suggested that treats for a holiday meal would be welcome, and would the girls like to come serve there as well? We spent one meeting making molded chocolate candies and bagging them in cellophane with ribbons for the Easter meal (they also made a giant Easter poster-card), and scheduled three dates to serve meals. On our first visit to serve meals (which was quite an eye-opener for these 9-year-olds) they noticed that in the back of the room the church had set up a used clothing bank. I was stunned when they came up with the idea (all on their own) to collect children's clothing to donate at our next visit.
This idea became their Leadership Action Project for the Sign of the World. They only had a month to do it, and it was not as involved as I would expect from them now, but they followed the plan in the handbook, and collected clothing from their own families, neighbors, and friends. They spent a meeting sorting the clothing by sex and size, and we delivered it at our second visit. I was very proud of them! For our third visit in June, we invited the Brownies to come with us as a bridging activity. It was an excellent service experience for the whole troop.
Sharon Hickey, Junior Leader
We are about to do our second service project for our local Ronald McDonald House. Our first was to collect toys and books at our Juliette Gordon Low Birthday party to donate to them for the kids who are staying there to use....
Our second, this coming weekend, is to go in and help with "weekly chores." We're not quite sure what this will entail, but the way I see it, anything that will show 9-11 year old girls that they can do housework can't be all bad!
If you have a Ronald McDonald House you might call and see if they can use your help with anything. this time of year I suspect they get a lot of calls...but at other times I bet they still need a hand.
Here are just a few of the things I have done with "my" Brownies.
Holiday Serve & Sing- The troops at two schools (approx. 175 girls) got together for a sing-a-long and refreshments. We then made ornaments for nursing home residents.
We have visited a nursing home and completed a craft with the residents (Turkey tray favors). After a snack with our new friends, we sang a few songs. They loved watching the girls perform action songs.
This year, we have visited an area pantry and helped fill personal care bags. All supplies were provided by the pantry. We filled about 400 bags in an hour. The girls then toured the pantry and enthusiastically volunteered to return. Pantries need help repackaging bulk products and filling bags or boxes year-round.
Mike suggested we all post at least one service project we have done with our troop. Our troop has been very busy with service projects this year.
In October, we stenciled the storm drains in town with a message reminding people not to dump waste because it leads to the river.
In November, we made apple pies and donated them for the Community Thanksgiving Feast. Some of the girls even showed up to help deliver them through Meals and Wheels. We also made snowflakes and decorated a near by Retirement Center.
In December, we are making cookies for the senior center, putting together a Christmas Basket for a needy family complete with Christmas Ham, participating as elves and reindeer at the local homeless Christmas party, and helping the Elks Club put together Christmas baskets for the needy.
Many of the girls are tutoring first graders twice a week, they play basketball with the members of the Special Olympics (not service but a lot of fun), and performed a flag ceremony at the Elks Veteran's Day Service.