By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Eight Girl Scouts from Shrewsbury Troop 11087 earned their Bronze Award after six months and over 160 hours of work. They coordinated the collection of hygiene items, books, comfort items and new pajamas, which were packed in backpacks and donated to the Worcester Department of Children and Families (DCF) to benefit young girls in foster care.
The project began in November 2016 and the girls officially received the award May 18. They surpassed their goal and donated 47 comfort bags.
The idea for the project was inspired by a speaker at a church service that one of the girls heard. That speaker was Gina Doyle, who is the Worcester East Foster Care recruitment ambassador as well as a foster-adoptive parent.
As part of bringing awareness to their project in the Shrewsbury area and the need to support foster children in the area, the girls held a PJ Party April 29. Anyone attending was encouraged to bring donations for the project or to donate funds to support the effort. The troop managed five craft tables as part of the event.
Worcester DCF Social Worker Barbara Shea and Doyle attended the event, which presented the opportunity for community members to ask questions about the foster care program.
The comfort bags will be distributed by the Worcester DCF as needed to middle school girls entering the foster system. The troop’s hope for the bags is that they will help with the transition that many girls in foster care face.
In addition to the comfort items each bag contained, a personal letter written by the troop with words of encouragement was included. The girls wanted the recipients to know that someone was thinking of them at a time that can be quite stressful and uncertain.
Troop Leader Patty Minton said, “The girls were very appreciative of the support of the community, ecstatic at the results of the project and proud of their accomplishment.”
She also said the awareness of the project brought a new perspective to Girl Scouts for some.
“Someone said that they didn’t realize that Girl Scouts did something like this and just thought we sold cookies,” Minton said.
The preparation and execution of the Bronze Award project will prepare the girls for the more intensive Silver and Gold projects.
The girls would like to continue to partner with Worcester DCF in smaller ways like collecting school supplies in August or making cards for the holidays.
“They realized that DCF always will need something,” said Minton.
For more information on additional donation needs of the Worcester DCF or the foster care program, contact Gina Doyle at 508-792-2231.