Girl Scouts Make Tote Bags to Help Lift Spirits of Patients Battling Cancer

Girl Scouts Make Tote Bags to Help Lift Spirits of Patients Battling Cancer

In the worst stages of her cancer treatment, what got Jessica Brubaker through were the messages of support, she said.

Brubaker now wants to assist others battling the disease. To help other chemotherapy patients, Brubaker has teamed up some Girl Scouts in Lemont Friday to assemble tote bags and write letters of support.

“We are making bags for cancer patients so they can feel better and they can lift their spirits,” said Lauren Tracy, 10, a Girl Scout at Saints Cyril and Methodius School in Lemont.

About 20 girls in the school’s kindergarten Daisy troop and fourth grade Junior Troop assembled 21 tote bags in conjunction with the #bettereveryday chemo care tote program, which Brubaker started last year with items to help “brighten the spirit of those going through treatment and bring a smile their way,” said troop leader Megan Plahm.

Using troop funds, donations from friends and family, as well as providing some of the supplies themselves, the girls filled the bags with items that would benefit chemo patients, Plahm said. According to a #bettereveryday flier, more than 150 chemo care totes have been gifted, filled with items such as reusable water bottles, Working Hands hand cream for chemo rash, Biotene mouthwash for mouth sores caused by chemo, adult coloring books, colored pencils and crayons to pass the time during treatment.

Bags also had Lifesaver candies to help offset the taste of saline during the cancer treatments, the flier said.

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As Brubaker, who is from Western Springs, prepared to meet the girls, she told the Daily Southtown about her battle with breast cancer. A mother of three small children, she underwent a double mastectomy and is nearly finished with her treatment, she said.

“After my first chemotherapy, I got very, very sick,” she said. “You’ve got to knock yourself down to build yourself back up.”

Fighting back tears, she recalled a conversation with her husband who reminded her that the only time she said she might not make it through was when she was on the bathroom floor vomiting in the toilet.

“When you’re knocked back down, it’s hard to know you will get back up,” she told the Southtown. “What helped me get back up” was knowing people cared.

In every bag she sends, she writes a personal note, and so did the Girl Scouts.

To read the full story, visit Daily Southtown. And to learn about other Girl Scout service projects, visit Girls Give Back.

Local Girl Scout Donates Unicorns to Kids with Cancer

Local Girl Scout Donates Unicorns to Kids with Cancer

After visiting her grandfather in the hospital, Galilea Gonzalez of Des Plaines, Illinois decided she wanted to help children who were in the hospital as well.

“Unicorns are my favorite and they’re special because they can help other kids,” said the 7-year-old Girl Scout Daisy.

Galilea mentioned the idea to her mother, Carmina Gonzalez, and together they came up with an idea to raise money for stuffed unicorns.

“We went to [Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s] program kickoff event at Allstate Arena and there was a sponsor making bath salts inside a Ziploc bag,” explained Carmina. “It was very simple and she loved it, so she said she would make them and sell them and use the money she made to buy the unicorns.”

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Galilea in the process of making bath salts.

Many bath salts bags later, Galilea was able to purchase more than 100 unicorns, which were distributed to local children with cancer. As a result of her hard work and empathy, Galilea received the “Lead Like Elena” award and was featured on the Disney Channel. The award is inspired by the leadership and bravery of Disney’s newest heroine, Elena of Avalor.

“I was excited,” Galilea said of her brief appearance on the Disney Channel.
For the Gonzalez family, Girl Scouting is a family tradition.

“I was a Girl Scout when I was living in California and I learned so many different things. We did a lot of camping and outdoor activities,” said Carmina, who’s also Galilea’s troop leader. “I come from a first-generation family and I learned a lot from my leaders. It was enriching for me and empowering and I want Galilea to feel empowered as a girl.”

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Galilea sold bath salts to buy unicorns for children in need.

Meanwhile, Galilea is having a ton of fun in her second year as a Girl Scout Daisy making friends and collecting fun patches.

“It’s fun and I want to do it every day,” she said. “I want to do it right now.”

And Carmina shares her daughter’s enthusiasm.

“I enjoy being a Girl Scout leader,” she said. “You’re teaching them, but they’re teaching you, too.”

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Girl Scouts Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the First Known Sale of Cookies By Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the First Known Sale of Cookies By Girl Scouts

A century ago, a group of innovative girls started what would become a national tradition: Girl Scout Cookies.

This year, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first known sale of cookies by Girl Scouts with the debut of the new Girl Scout S’mores™ Cookies. The s’mores-inspired crunchy graham sandwich cookie with creamy chocolate and marshmallowy filling will join Girl Scout Cookie classics such as Thin Mints®, Samoas®, and Trefoils®.

Local Girl Scouts began taking orders for Girl Scout Cookies from family and friends earlier this month. Meanwhile, cookie lovers can find their favorite varieties at booth sales near public places throughout the area beginning Feb. 17 until March 26. Cookies sold by GSGCNWI are $5 per box.

“When you buy Girl Scout Cookies, you help power unique opportunities for Girl Scouts to take the lead in powerful, everyday ways,” said Nancy Wright, CEO of GSGCNWI. “We are excited to introduce the new Girl Scout S’mores™ Cookies and give customers a delicious way to help our girls learn important life skills, such as goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.”

The first known sale of cookies by Girl Scouts occurred in 1917, when the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project. Since then, the Girl Scout Cookie Program has evolved into the largest entrepreneurial training program for girls in the world.

Girl Scout Cookies not only help Girl Scouts earn money for fun, educational activities and community projects, but also play a huge role in transforming girls into G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ as they learn essential life skills that will stay with them forever.

“The most important skill that I have learned is how to communicate with strangers,” said Nina Grotto, a 17-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador and one of GSGCNWI’s top cookie sellers. “As a kid, I was always really shy and I wouldn’t talk to anyone, but selling Girl Scout Cookies helped me to talk to people that I don’t know … I learned that being creative is always better than staying inside the box. It’s when you do something different from everyone else and tackle an issue in a new way that you succeed.”

Every penny of net proceeds earned from the sale of Girl Scout Cookies is reinvested locally into exceptional programming and activities for girls. At the troop level, girls manage the decision-making process for how to spend their troop cookie money and often reinvest it in their neighborhoods through service projects and learning experiences, including travel. Customers who purchase Girl Scout Cookies are not only getting a tasty treat—they are also investing in their communities and girls.

“With the money that my troop earns through cookie sales, I can pay for travel opportunities, programs and camps,” Nina said. “It also allows me to give back to my community because I also use the money toward community service projects.”

For more information about Girl Scout Cookies, including the official Girl Scout Cookie Finder app, please visit girlscoutcookies.org.

A Message From Our CEO

A Message From Our CEO

Dear Girl Scout Family, Neighbors and Friends,

I am writing this message to you today from my heart, knowing that unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. Thanks to the outpouring of calls, emails and social media posts, I understand with greater urgency that our work as a Girl Scout Movement is more important now than ever before.

It is imperative that we stand in unison and advocate together on the issues that impact girls and women around the world — this is beyond politics or party. This is about basic respect, dignity, unity and everyday leadership.

I assure you that our passion for empowering girls and supporting their individual voices has never been greater. We continue to elevate girls and women, respecting all members of our Movement, such as the time four brilliant Girl Scouts represented our council at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women.

Our power lies within our diversity and strengthens us in all aspects. We must support our girls as they elevate their voices and take action, which builds courage, confidence and character.

We are an organization that has taken the lead for more than 100 years and we’re not backing down. The need is imminent and the time is now to ensure everyone sees our girls and women as equals. According to a recent survey, 86 percent of people believe we’re facing a global leadership crisis and I, for one, believe that Girl Scouts is the solution.

So join us today in building a better tomorrow. Because our girls are the future and the future is now.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Nancy Wright

CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana

Get to Know Your Girl Reps to the Board

Get to Know Your Girl Reps to the Board

At Girl Scouts, we know that one girl can make a difference. And when there’s a group of girls banding together to make a change — watch out, world!

Recently, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana inducted the newest class of Girl Representatives to the Board of Directors. As Girl Reps, this select group of older girls will have an opportunity to influence the council’s governance process and impact the way Girl Scouting reaches our communities and members.

Plus, they’ll gain real-life leadership experience that prepares them for success in future academic- and career-related endeavors.

To learn more about what they’re looking forward to this year, check out the video below and click here to learn more about the application process. And who knows, maybe we’ll see YOU here next year!

Chicago Girl Scout Teaches Friends Life Lessons

Chicago Girl Scout Teaches Friends Life Lessons

Ally Krajewski is a rock star.

At her Chicago elementary school, students beg to be her buddy and her Girl Scout troop meetings are no different.

“Can I sit next to Ally at dinner?” one of her Sister Girl Scouts asks Ally’s mom during a recent field trip. Another one rushes to be her partner during a group activity.

To say the 10-year-old Girl Scout Junior is popular is an understatement, but her family and friends consider her more so a blessing.

Ally was born with Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA. The disease is the leading genetic cause of death for infants and is caused by a mutation in the survival motor neuron, according to curesma.org.

SMA impairs the nerves that control voluntary muscle movement, such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, and swallowing. As a result, Ally drives a power wheelchair and communicates with her eyes.

“Her life expectancy was less than two years and I want to give her as many experiences as possible. She teaches us all life lessons,” Ally’s mother, Tina Krajewski, explained. “The troop does so much for her emotionally.”

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And the feeling is mutual as Ally is a valuable member of Troop 20149, according to her leader, Tracy Baldwin.

“She helps the girls learn how to accept all girls and shares her story when we go to larger group events, like World Thinking Day,” said Tracy Baldwin. “She helps us all to be more accepting of other people and be more empathetic.”

This summer, Ally went overnight camping for the first time and she was able to help educate other Girl Scout troops about her condition.

“It was the first time she had attended a sleepover,” Krajewski said. “It was phenomenal. It was the best ‘normal’ childhood experience she’s ever had.”

As a former Girl Scout, Krajewski wanted her daughter to have a traditional troop experience as well.

“Every time we go to a Girl Scout meeting, her eyes light up,” Krajewski said. “She enjoys being with her friends.”

And they enjoy being with her as well. Maya Wagner-Tyree, an 11-year-old Girl Scout Junior, said Ally is one of the reasons she enjoys Girl Scouts so much.

“I like coloring with her and hanging out with her,” she said. “We learn to work together and help each other if someone doesn’t know how to do something and we help Ally, too.”

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Bella Alvarez, who’s also a 10-year-old Girl Scout Junior, agreed.

“We interact with each other because sometimes people don’t interact with each other because they’re different,” she explained. “You should be kind to everyone.”

It’s a motto that the girls have wholeheartedly embraced since they welcomed Ally into their troop about two years ago after she transferred schools.

“She’s resilient and she’s made us better people,” said Baldwin. “Girl Scouts is for every girl. We’re all learning so much from her. She’s definitely made our Girl Scout experience richer.”

To learn more about Ally, visit her blog.

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WATCH: Girl Scouts Celebrate Leadership in New PSA

WATCH: Girl Scouts Celebrate Leadership in New PSA

Every day, millions of girls are showing the world what they’re capable of — whether it’s building LEGO robots, saving the environment or exploring new destinations. They’re G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™.

Through exciting G.I.R.L.-led experiences, Girl Scouts prepares girls to empower themselves for the big and small moments when they overcome failure, face their fears, try new things, and make their dreams a reality.

Are you ready to take the lead like a Girl Scout? No matter your age, gender, or background, Girl Scouts has opportunities for you to take the lead and make amazing things happen in your community and around the world.

Check out our latest public service announcement, featuring our brand-new “Watch Me Shine” Girl Scout anthem and learn more about what it means to be a G.I.R.L.!