Girl Scouts Bring Awareness to Youth Homelessness
Two girl scouts recently donated 43 blankets to the Burrowes Street Youth Haven as part of a community service project to receive their silver award.
Nikki and Annalia, who will both be ninth grade students at State High, began working on the project in October.
The idea to make, collect and donate blankets to the Burrowes Street Youth Haven — an entity of the Youth Service Bureau that provides shelter for homeless and runaway boys and girls ages 12 to 18 — was an obvious choice.
"It kind of started with the idea of how it's so cold in the winter here," Nikki says. "We noticed an increasing amount of people in unfortunate situations in the area. Our hearts went out to the kids who are our age and have to go through this."
"We wanted to do something to help them out," Annalia says.
Most of the material used to make the blankets, including fleece sheets of fabric, was donated. Nikki and Annalia also put a donation box for gently used blankets at the State College YMCA, where 27 were collected.
Some of the project requirements include at least 50 hours of work and generating community awareness. To do this, Nikki and Annalia shared their project with fifth graders at Park Forest Elementary School in January.
"It gave us a chance to educate the fifthth graders and makes the blankets so much more special for the kids who are receiving them," Nikki says. The students helped put the finishing touches on 16 blankets by tying knots along their edges.
"We wanted to spread awareness in the community by educating the fifth graders about this and how you might not realize someone is in trouble, but you can help them out," Annalia says.
"We tried to make it so they could really understand," Nikki says. This included asking the students what they think the signs are that someone is homeless. The students, Nikki says, replied with "dirty" and "clothes ripped." While they agreed that that's the case sometimes, normal looking people might be in the same predicament.
"We tried to educate them about how not all the stereotypes are true," Annalia says.
With the felt scraps from cutting the edges of blankets, Annalia made dog toys that she and Nikki will donate to Pets Come First. They were able to incorporate this into their meeting with the Park Forest fifth graders and discussed that small objects, like material scraps, can be refurbished and given a new purpose.
As far as community service projects go, Nikki and Annalia agree this has been their biggest one so far. It'll be a couple of years until they can get their gold award, which will require at least 80 hours dedicated to completing a project.