Success Story: Operation Stuff-A-Stocking
Some U.S. soldiers who can’t be home for the holidays have a Girl Scout as their not-so-secret Santa this year. In 2009, Sammy Lizarraga was working on her Girl Scout Silver Award when her soldier brother Joey was deployed to serve in the Middle East. Spending Christmas without him inspired the Poway, California native to start Operation Stuff-A-Stocking.
Working with her sister Girl Scouts and other donors, Sammy organized, assembled, and shipped holiday gift stockings to servicemen and women stationed overseas. The stockings were filled with thoughtful treats and essentials such as sunscreen, bug repellent, lip balm, chewing gum, energy bars, playing cards, and various toiletries. These much-needed comforts from home were her way of showing support and saying thanks to our troops.
“As part of my Silver Award project, I spoke to about 40 different organizations about the military being deployed and needing to remind them that we support and miss them,” Sammy says. “I held a Christmas stocking drive to go along with it. I placed a personal letter in each stocking introducing myself as a Girl Scout and telling them about my project.”
Sammy’s first Operation Stuff-A-Stocking had an initial goal of collecting 300 filled stockings but, thanks to the generosity of local children, teens, and adults who caught the spirit of her mission and made donations, yielded 639. This year, the 15-year-old set her goal to send stockings stuffed with season’s greetings to 1,000 deployed troops, and she has already exceeded it by 600! With Joey still serving in the Middle East, Sammy will work with him to boost morale as his C-130 crew flies to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait to distribute her stockings to American units. Thanks to Sammy’s gifts of goodwill, troops facing the holidays far from family and friends will know that Girl Scouts and their fellow Americans haven’t forgotten them.
And Sammy isn’t done yet. Inspired by the GIRLtopia Leadership Journey, the high school sophomore is now starting work on her Girl Scout Gold Award and even has some advice for others. “The biggest thing I could tell girls is that they need to find a project they are passionate about,” she says. “Find something that means something to you. It could be something that you’re really good at—like a sport, singing, or even dancing—or it could be something in your community or the world that you think needs to change. The main thing is to be passionate about it, because it’s a long process and you want to be motivated about doing it.”