Disaster Recovery: How Girl Scouts Can Help

Help Now–Offer a thoughtful, immediate response!

Think first! When hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and other disasters strike, a Girl Scout’s first thought is, “How can I help?” It’s important to have a thoughtful plan so that you can give people what they really need during a stressful and scary time. People often immediately send clothing and cans of food to disaster areas. They want to help, but all that stuff may not be what people need—and relief workers say that it often gets in the way of what they’re trying to do.

Act Like a Philanthropist— Tips

If you decide to help after a disaster – by raising awareness or donating materials, you’re acting like a philanthropist!  If you want to learn how to be a philanthropist by offering help, follow these steps:

1. A philanthropist always knows why help is needed and can communicate the need for help to others. So before you start asking other to help, put yourself in the shoes of a girl who lives in an area affected by a disaster.

Maybe your family no longer has a home…maybe your Girl Scout group has no place to meet right now…maybe the camp you love has been damaged.

What would that feel like?

2. Read newspaper articles, go online or watch television reports about the disaster and listen to what people are saying is truly necessary.

Why do people need help—have they lost homes, power, heat?

If you live in the affected area but are lucky enough to be okay, check in with people you know in your community or follow the local news to find out how you can offer more hands-on help. For example:

  • A school may put out the word that they need backpacks filled with school supplies.
  • A faith-based organization may let the community know that they need people to serve hot meals.
  • A shelter may ask for donations of blankets or warm clothing.


3. Check out ForGirls.GirlScouts.org and girlscouts.org. What is the Girl Scouting mission? How does Girl Scouting encourage a sense of sisterhood?

4. Now think about how you can tell this story. Why is it important for people to help out?

5. Finally, brainstorm ways to thank people who pitch in. Philanthropists always do that too!

Educate And Prepare Yourself And Others For Disasters–Think ahead and be ready!

Leaders always try to think ahead—and it’s important to be ready before a disaster strikes! Guess what? When you prepare ahead and educate others to do the same, you are contributing to the country’s emergency-response system. So, harness your energy after this disaster to do what you can in your region.

  • You and your family can make a plan for stockpiling emergency supplies, communicating with one another if you’re separated, and how and when to evacuate if necessary.
  • You can develop and lead workshops to help other families prepare, or create a booklet or video to share information with a wider audience.
  • You can find out how your community has already prepared—and where there are worries. Does a shelter need a stockpile of hygiene kits to hand out when there’s a disaster? Does a hospital or nursery school need assistance with evacuation identification cards? Does a school need volunteers to practice safety drills with younger students?

Change the World–Think big and create solutions!

Think big—that’s what Girl Scouts is all about! Leaders help people in the midst of a disaster, but they also look at why disasters occur and how damage can be lessened.

For example, environmental changes may lead to more flooding when a hurricane hits. Lack of communication may mean that some people don’t evacuate in time. Loss of technology during a disaster may keep family members from finding one another.

What Can You Do? Meet experts and learn more about the problems they’re trying to solve. Are there new products that need to be invented?

Find out what has gone wrong in previous disasters and brainstorm ways to avoid them in the future. Who can you work with in your community to make your ideas a reality?

Stumped on how to get started? Go on a Leadership Journey and learn all the steps to develop a Take Action project that will help others and make the world a better place.

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