When we started off the 2015-2016 Guiding year, we asked our Guides what they thought Guiding was about and what they wanted to focus on this year. To our surprise, the number one answer (tied with camping) was community service.
As a “literary agent” (a resource Guider who helps units participating in our National Service Project: Words in Action), I was excited to help the girls create a literacy-based event, and I knew I could count on them to be ready and willing for any service needed.
I contacted a local group who runs the women’s shelters in our region. It turns out they are always looking for book donations, so we got organized to start collecting!
We also decided to create literacy packs to donate to a local back-to-school program. With the help of a couple of our Brownies, the Guides created nine literacy backpacks full of school supplies, and another 15 pencil cases which were fully loaded for the school year.
As successful as our literacy packs were, it was our book drive that had not only the biggest impact on our community, but on our girls as well. Our community is fairly large, and it is difficult to have events where all the girls can participate. To bridge the gap, Melody, another literary agent, collected books from other cities to bring to our book drive, collecting 229 books in the weeks ahead of the event.
Throughout the day, we had Sparks, Brownies, and Guides all bring in books and participate in some activities about literacy. They learned that literacy extends beyond reading words and into numbers, and of the challenges that some First Nations communities face with literacy.
The biggest part of the day was the workshop hosted by the women’s shelter. The girls learned about healthy and unhealthy relationships and earned their Say No To Violence Challenge crest.
While collecting book donations, the girls would count a box of books and add the number to a large list on the wall. They occasionally would stop and do a quick tally in their heads but they weren’t focused on how many books they had – they were focused on how amazing it was that people were donating books and the size of the individual donations.
After a write-up in the local paper, we had several non-Guiding members of the community bring books by, like a local teacher who donated more than 100 children’s books that their library was clearing out.
At the end of the day, the girls couldn’t believe it when we had collected 1,449 books. They were proud of what they had accomplished, and of the community for supporting them. Even though the numbers may have been impressive, it wasn’t the numbers that the girls took away from the day – it was the sense of community and knowing that they’d helped to make a difference.
Guest post by Jane Taft, a Unit Guider with Sparks and Guides and Community Guider in Southern Ontario who is addicted to camping and collecting crests.
Words in Action has reached 50,000+ books donated and 10,000+ participating! It’s not too late to log your actions. If you’ve participated in the NSP over the past two years, you can still visit our website and showcase your impact.