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Formerly the Girl Scout Volunteer Connection Podcast 

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Oct 20, 2020

  1. Raise awareness about wildfires. Basically, let’s learn more! What areas are most vulnerable to wildfires? What can start a wildfire? At what point to people need to evacuate? How many people are impacted by wildfire evacuations each year? What happens to their homes and their belongings? What happens to their pets? What is the impact on the air quality? What is the long term impact of wildfires? What is the long term impact on people’s health? How do firefighters fight wildfires?

    Once girls learn more, brainstorm ways to take action to raise awareness for others about wildfires. What is it important for people to know, and how can we spread the word?
  2. Learn about hurricanes. What actually IS a hurricane? What are the different categories of hurricanes? What areas are most vulnerable to hurricanes? Why do people continue to live in areas impacted by hurricanes? How are people impacted by hurricanes? What are the most destructive or groundbreaking hurricanes in history? Is there a pattern to the severity of hurricanes over time? Why or why not and how can we tell? What can we do to prepare or minimize the risk for hurricane damage? What kinds of people and roles exist in communities impacted by hurricanes, who are responsible for planning the emergency response and strategy? You can also apply many of these questions to different types of natural disasters. What kinds of natural disasters might occur in your community? How can we learn more about the phenomenon itself as well as the response strategy, and planning and preparation?
  3. Run a supply drive. It’s really common for girls - and really for all people - to want to make donations or to do a drive to collect donations. The most important thing in these cases is to really find out what supplies are actually needed before you start your drive. It’s super common for people to want to donate clothes after a natural disaster, but often there is an excess of clothing donated and not enough food, medical supplies, baby supplies, and other needs. Make sure you find a place to collect your donations - contact shelters, organizations like the Red Cross, or other local relief efforts to find out what is most needed and what would be most helpful.
  4. Support first responders. Other than - obviously - firefighters, what other first responders are involved in different kinds of natural disasters? Are they volunteers or paid professionals? How do their lives change during the response period compared to normal seasons? What is the impact on their health and their families? Brainstorm with girls about how to raise awareness and/or directly support first responders.
  5. If you’re local to an area that has been impacted, research what relief efforts and opportunities are going on in your area. Are there volunteer opportunities at shelters? Do they need help serving meals or distributing supplies? Is there any sorting or collection that can be done?
  6. Remember that, although troops can make monetary donations to other organizations, they cannot raise money specifically with the intention to donate that money. The ONLY organization a troop can raise money for, per our non profit status, is Girl Scouts itself. However, you can receive monetary donations toward a take action project - so if you are going to use those donations to purchase diapers and canned foods, for example, then you could probably do that. If you aren’t sure if your project idea meets Girl Scouts requirements, make sure to get approval from your council before you take action.
  7. Also remember that, oftentimes, as you start to do research and reach out to organizations to see what you can do - especially if you are not local to the area impacted by the natural disaster - it is very common to hear that what organizations need the most of is money. Since this is not really the “girl scout way,” to bring about change, because it is not girl led nor does it involve hands on or cooperative learning activities, sometimes the best thing you can do is to raise awareness. Educate your girls, and encourage them to spread the word and raise awareness to others. Education and access to information IS a form of taking action, even if it feels less… impactful at times. But regardless, it is SO important and it is actually EXTREMELY helpful and you never know what you might inspire. As girls learn more and do more research, you may inspire a passion about something in particular that shapes the rest of their lives. And even if the only thing you are able to inspire is increased awareness, that goes a long way, and you’ll be surprised at how much of that kind of information girls will remember for the rest of their lives, and they’ll tell other people. So awareness campaigns, and taking time for girls to explore information and learn about the information, and then to encourage them to raise awareness in their communities or online, as long as you are practicing safe internet standards, can actually be a lot more high impact than you might think!

And, here's a resource for you in the show notes from GSUSA about how to talk to your kids about natural disasters:

https://www.girlscouts.org/en/raising-girls/happy-and-healthy/happy/kids-and-natural-disasters-hurricane-earthquake.html#parenting