Local Girl Scout troop

Amber, Vivienne, Reese T., Rowynn, Erin and Reese O. Not pictured: Charlotte and Gigi.

In August, Arcadia Girl Scout Troop 312, composed primarily of Veritas Prep students, worked on their Bronze Award. Their mission was to collect 1,000 K-8 books to donate to the United Methodist Outreach Ministries, which focuses on preventing and ending homelessness. The girls reached their goal and then some, donating over 1,000 books to the nonprofit at the end of August.

“The Bronze Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Junior can earn,” troop member Rowynn said, “and it involves improving in your community.”

Girl Scout Juniors are comprised of fourth and fifth graders. After advancing to Cadettes, troop members are eligible to earn the Silver Award. The Silver Award then prepares high school seniors to earn the Gold Award, which is the highest honor. 

The UMOM homeless shelter sponsors a weekly program called “Read to Me,” where volunteers read to kids to promote literacy.

“Every year, UMOM tries to get 1,000 books donated for their reading program, so our goal was to get those books for them,” troop member Charlotte said. 

The “Read to Me” program allows kids to keep two books after every reading session.

“These kids don’t have many possessions, so those books are special to them. This program is a very good deed,” troop member Amber said.

UMOM requests fiction books geared toward kids ages 4-13. Superhero books, pop-up books and serial books like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” are in the highest demand.

“We established a couple of ways for people to donate,” Charlotte said. “We made an Amazon Wish List, and we also donated personal books we no longer needed.”

The troop members also contacted a couple of bookstores and a Goodwill, where they were presented with a $20 gift card to buy books.

“I did a neighborhood walk where I handed out flyers letting people know they could place books in the box on my front porch,” Rowynn said. “I feel good when I get another book. It’s fun to set a goal and then meet it.”

According to Troop Leader Susan Panganiban, to achieve the Bronze Award, the troop members must utilize the Girl Scout leadership keys: discover, connect and take action.

Panganiban explained that to “discover” means the troop members learn what the community needs most and how they can best contribute while using their talents. To “connect” is essentially interacting and working with each other and family, friends and the community. And to “take action” literally means to go out and drive actual change with their efforts.

“The girls are avid readers,” Panganiban said, “so their UMOM project tied into a need in the community and a passion. While they worked as a team, each girl also created a plan on how she was going to achieve her goal.”