Responding to Natural Disasters — Winter 2012-2013
1. 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.
GSUSA recommends the following two actions:
Give money to meet the needs of Hurricane Sandy victims. GSUSA has lifted the restrictions on troop fundraising, so you can donate money to the affected councils. At this time, donations can go directly to the councils or to the Girl Scouts of the USA to be distributed to the councils. The Girls Scouts Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund can be found at donate.girlscouts.org/hurricanerecovery. Read “Act Like a Philanthropist” for tips on how to do this.
Participate in the New York Cares Coat Drive at newyorkcares.org/volunteer/holiday_volunteering/coat_ drive/index.php. The New York Cares Coat Drive 2012 is more important than ever in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. New York Cares aims to collect a record 200,000 coats this year, and they need 50,000 coats immediately to distribute to New Yorkers on Staten Island, in the Rockaways, and other hard-hit areas.
Act Like a Philanthropist
If you decide to raise money on behalf of impacted councils, you’re acting like a philanthropist! A philanthropist makes sure people have what they need by giving their own money or raising money from others. If you want to learn how to be a philanthropist by donating money to Girl Scout councils affected by Hurricane Sandy, follow these steps:
1. A philanthropist always knows why money is needed and can communicate the need to others. So before you start raising funds for one of the impacted Girl Scout councils, imagine a girl your age who lives in an area the storm has hit hard. 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 or watch television reports about the impacted areas. 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? Now check out the websites of the Girl Scout councils. Why is it important to you to raise money to benefit Girl Scouting in those areas?
4. Now think about how you can tell this story when you fundraise. Why is it important for people to help Girl Scouting continue in the impacted areas? Get started on your story by completing the sentences below.
Girl Scouting matters to girls like me because…
Because of Hurricane Sandy, some of our Girl Scout councils need help to…
5. Finally, brainstorm ways to thank people who donate money. Philanthropists always do that too!
2. 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 post–Hurricane Sandy 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?
One way Girl Scouts can assist with region-specific disaster preparedness is by participating in the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day of Service 2013. The American Red Cross invites local Girl Scouts to support the MLK Day of Service preparedness activities and educate their communities.
How can you participate? Contact your local Red Cross by visiting www.redcross.org and entering your zip code. Discuss with your troop and adult volunteers where the need is greatest and how best to support any activities planned.
3. 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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