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Oklahoma Tornadoes: How Girl Scouts Can Help
This week we are saddened by the tragedy in Oklahoma and inspired by the stories of heroism and service. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities affected by Monday's tornado. A Girl Scout was among the children who died. Our hearts break for the friends and families of each of the victims.
How to Help Girl Scouts:
Relief fund. If you would like to help Girl Scouts in the affected areas, our sister council, Girl Scouts-Western Oklahoma (headquartered in Oklahoma City) has created the Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma Tornado Relief Fund that will help get troops back up and running, provide scholarships for program and camp participation, and offer other support to Girl Scouts in the affected areas. You can text the word GIRLS to 20222 to make a $10 donation to this fund.
Trefoil art. The Western Oklahoma Council is encouraging girls to send messages or art in the shape of the Girl Scout trefoil that it will present this summer to Girl Scouts affected by the storm. Please send your trefoil artwork to the address below. Please note that the council cannot accept and handle material donations such as blankets and toiletries.
Girl Scouts-Western Oklahoma
Mary Nichols' Family Leadership Center
6100 N. Robinson Ave.
Oklahoma City, Okla. 73118
Tragedies like Oklahoma remind us what it means to be part of a worldwide movement and sisters to every Girl Scout.
The Girl Scout National Program Team has developed two program resources that demonstrate how the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is all about helping girls be leaders in times of disaster. These resources also give tips and examples for engaging girls who want to help out:
- What Can a Girl Scout Do When Disaster Strikes? is a girl-friendly tip sheet that girls of all grade levels can use to channel their leadership experiences toward helping out in times of disaster. It can be downloaded on ForGirls.girlscouts.org/Disaster-Response.
- What Girl Scout Leadership Looks Like in Times of Disaster was developed for council staff and volunteers to help adults guide girls who want to know how they can help after a disaster. Download it here.
Girl Scout troops can always donate some of their funds to disaster relief, as long as it is a decision made by the girls. Girl Scouts are not allowed to directly raise funds for disaster relief unless Girl Scouts of America specifically lifts the fundraising restriction. We will keep you informed if the fundraising policy is amended by GSUSA.
For now, Girl Scout troops interested in helping should work through local community groups to assist in relief efforts. Please remember that donated dollars always help more than donated items, as the logistics of mailing and distributing these items are not practical after a disaster strikes. Charity Watch recommends that rather than attempting to donate clothing or other supplies, people can have a garage sale and then turn their used goods into cash that can be sent to a charity which will use the funds wisely.
The Red Cross: Red Cross is accepting donations either online or via text message. Simply text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.
We know that disaster activity and the images of disasters can be especially frightening for children. We urge our members to talk with youth to help them process their feelings and feel better prepared.
One of the best ways to help children with disaster-related fears is to engage them in disaster preparedness. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, some Girl Scouts NorCal troops learned how to better prepare themselves and their families for emergency situations while earning the Emergency Preparedness Patch offered through the Girl Scouts of the Nation's Capital. Developed in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, this program helps Girl Scouts:
- DISCOVER information to prepare them for emergency situations;
- CONNECT to their communities, both locally and nationally, as they identify agencies that work to protect their communities; and
- TAKE ACTION by identifying community needs and supporting public safety and emergency preparedness in their communities.
You can find information about the Girl Scout Emergency Preparedness Patch by clicking here, and a downloadable preparedness activity book is available online here.