Every year about this time you can feel the excitement about the holidays. Many kids have already started writing their wish list of toys. Rarely does that list include basic needs such as warm socks and shoes. But for one eight-year-old girl in Kansas City, that’s exactly what was on her list.
Tara Plakyda, leader of GS Troop 3704 from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, knew that teaching her second-year Brownies the lesson of giving back was an important one. Through a friend Tara learned of something called the Red Bag Program, providing Christmas gifts to children who wouldn’t otherwise receive any gifts.
Tara back brought the idea of adopting a girl their same age and filling a red bag as a community service project. All the girls agreed this would be a perfect way to spend some of their hard-earned cookie sales money.
They chose an eight-year-old girl whose main wishes included a diary, a basketball and warm socks, shoes and clothes. They didn’t know her back story or why she didn’t have anyone who could give her these things. But they stepped up to provide for her.
In addition to their cookie proceeds, the troop did some additional money earning and decided that every dollar made would also be used to purchase items for the red bag. Then they had a wrapping party to wrap the gifts they had purchased. Although they quickly realized they would need a second bag as the red one was spilling over with goodies!
“I didn’t really know how much this meant to the girls,” Tara said. “We ended the project and didn’t really talk about it much again. But when the troop bridged to Juniors I asked each of them to write about what they loved from the last year. Every single girl wrote about the Red Bag Program.”
She realized then that it was something that had made a big impact on the girls. So much so that they are in the process of filling a new red bag for another little girl. This year, the girls are responsible for choosing which items they want to purchase for their adoptee and managing the money part of it too.
“This increases their responsibility and encourages them to think about others,” Tara said. “It shows them another meaning of the season.”
This is not just the spirit of the holidays. Every day we hear stories of troops who are stepping up to help others. Learning about the needs of our community and donating time and resources to assist where they can. This is the spirit of Girl Scouts!
Through all faiths and walks of life, Girl Scouts are making the world a better place!