I am always on the look out for a good service project. I find that in today’s busy society the act of doing good deeds for others and giving back to your community can get lost. I know that many of our girls do something like 4-5 extra activities a week. It’s nice to have the girls take a step back and reflect on how fortunate they are and maybe look for ways they can help out people who may be less fortunate.
Service projects are great but with Brownies it can sometimes be a challenge to find something that really fits their skill level. Food and clothing drives are simple enough to do but often families are already being asked by schools to bring these items in. More complicated projects like knitting IZZY dolls or sewing pillowcase dresses are just too complicated for Brownies. They have the passion to do good but sometimes need something a bit more at their skill level.
I was telling my guider friend Cathy about my dilemma and she suggested that we make birthday boxes. This is the best service project I’ve ever seen for Brownie aged girls. Essentially they are a box with everything you need to throw a birthday party. They would include cake mix, icing, decorations, party favours, etc. We explained to the girls that if you’re a family that is struggling to put food on the table that a birthday party is an extravaganza that many people would just not be able to afford.
We held this meeting at a local Dollarama. The lovely folks at our local store were really good about having some excited, silly Brownies in the store working on the service project. We asked the girls to ring a small donation ($1-$5) which the unit matched. We split the girls into groups of 3-4 and gave them $30, a clipboard for brainstorming ideas and a guider to help things along. We told the girls that they had to include a cake mix, icing and cake pan in their Birthday Box. Everything else was up to them.
The girls in my unit LOVED this activity. They first worked together to brainstorm what they wanted to purchase and then scoured the store to find the best deals. We talked a lot about stretching their dollars (for example buying party favours that have 5 toys in a pack vs 1 in a pack) and how we can’t buy everything with $30, they had to make choices.
Overall the girls did very well. They all chose themes for their boxes and enjoyed not only picking out the items but checking out at the cash register and paying for everything. When we finished at the Dollarama we walked over to the grocery store to drop off the birthday boxes in the food bank collection bin. The smiles on their faces said it all, they were so proud of themselves!
The girls still talk about making birthday boxes and have already asked when we could go back and make some more. For this outing we awarded our first year girls with the Key to My Community – Special Interest Badge. The second year girls were awarded their Community Counts badge as they had already done one service project the year before with us.