Clad in green shirts proudly sporting Girl Scout Troop 365, a group of scouts unloaded three pickups packed full of supplies for Brownsville Animal Regulation and Control in Olmito.
“We were able to ask them what they needed so we could collect donations,” Girl Scout Troop 365 service organizer Rita Tyler Aguilar said, while Girl Scouts streamed into the animal shelter Thursday afternoon. “And so at our school, we had a big drive for a week, and we collected what they asked for. They asked for towels, food, blankets, newspapers, dog shampoo, Clorox and things like that.”
The young ladies in Girl Scout Troop 365 are working toward a momentous occasion with this service project: the Bronze Award, which starts them on the path toward the highest Girl Scout honor there is, a Gold Award.
“The Bronze Award is the first award that you have to get before you can go for silver or gold. And so, the Bronze Award requires that you have 20-hours minimum community service or project for each girl,” Aguilar said. “And so we decided we wanted to help the Brownsville animal shelter and animal clinic because it was something near and dear to everyone’s heart.”
To begin the project, the girls got an hour-long tour of the facility and learned what its staff needed the most. Additionally, the Girl Scouts spend some time on the weekend walking dogs and playing with kittens to help them get toward their 20-hour mark.
“They are really excited because when you come here you have to sign a volunteer sheet. And so now kids come in on Saturdays, and they volunteer and you can come walk the dogs. Anybody can do this,” she said. “We walk the dogs. We play with the cats. And we take care of help they need here. And anybody in the community can do this.”
But the project serves double purposes. While it helps the girls work toward their bronze award, volunteering also builds a sense of community.
“When kids learn to give of themselves and to give their time, they realize it’s an important part of growing up,” Aguilar said.
But another lesson might be learned about working hard to meet a deadline.
“We realized we had to get this bronze award done before Sept. 30,” Aguilar said, adding that the Girl Scouts, troop leaders, parents and staff from Episcopal Day School kicked it into high-gear to meet that deadline and earn their bronze award. “So it’s amazing what you can get done in two weeks.”
But most likely, Aguilar said, the girls don’t really realize quite yet what they’re working toward.
“You know, it’s kind of one of those, like they realize what they’re doing now, but when we have the crossing ceremony and they get the new badge and the new reward, then they’re going to get it and say ‘Wow, we did it and it’s a big deal,’” Aguilar said. “It’s a pride, it’s an honor thing.”