The members of Girl Scout Troop 701 have been caring about the community since they first joined together in 2015, when the girls were in kindergarten at Shields Elementary. While in elementary school, the girls held a fundraiser for Southern Delaware Therapeutic Riding Center in Milton.
For the last two years, they have made desserts for residents of the Lighthouse for Broken Wings. During the pandemic, when local food banks were in need, the girls created a weekly schedule to fill the Lewes library food closet for six months. Not forgetting their furry friends, they also baked homemade dog treats and sewed cage curtains to make adoptable pets more comfortable during their shelter stays.
Now sixth-graders, the girls have continued their mission to support the community. During the pandemic, they brainstormed and came up with the idea to create 50 birthday bags for Cape Henlopen School District elementary students experiencing homelessness. Items they purchased included birthday plates and napkins, a microwaveable birthday cake, slime, squishy toys, fidgets and balloons all wrapped in a decorated birthday bag. The Cape district provided birthday cups. Craig Warrington and Shawna Steinmann, homeless liaisons for the district, gave the bags to school social workers with the list of that month’s student birthdays from their caseload. The social workers delivered birthday bags to students on their birthdays, bringing tears of joy to some of the students’ eyes.
This simple gesture made such an impact that this year, Warrington and Steinmann asked the girls to expand their bags to include secondary students experiencing homelessness. Items they bought included earbuds, journals, colored pens, tissues, hand sanitizer, water bottles, Cape cups and Cape stickers. They also bought Cape spirit wear for each of the students to be able to show their Cape pride on school spirit days and at sporting events.
The girls applied for grants from Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation to support their efforts in making 100 birthday bags. Once they bought and collected all the gift items, it took two hours to stuff the bags in an assembly line. Then the bags were delivered to Warrington and Steinmann to be distributed to students celebrating their birthdays.
When asked about the experience making birthday bags, Girl Scout Teagan Baker, a sixth-grader at Beacon, said, “Everybody loves gifts on their birthdays, and everyone deserves a special birthday!” Troop 701 is making that happen thanks to funding from CHEF.
To donate to the homeless initiatives through CHEF, go to chef-cape.org.