St. Louis, MO – July 5, 2017 – Girl Scouts from across eastern Missouri collected more than 1.3 million personal care items through their largest community service project: “April Showers.” With generous support from their community, volunteers and parents, girls collected everything from deodorant to first aid supplies to diapers for local food pantries and shelters. The volunteer hours given to pull off this large initiative are also impressive: Girl Scouts spent more than 34,000 hours on this project while adult volunteers contributed 25,000 hours.
“Our founder Juliette Gordon Low believed community service provided Girl Scouts the opportunity to develop leadership in every girl and address pressing community needs,” said Bonnie Barczykowski, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. “We are grateful to our community for their support and are committed to making sure service remains an important aspect of every girl’s experience.”
The annual collection drive began in 1998, and takes place during April. Girl Scouts go door-to-door, distributing recyclable plastic bags, and return a week later to collect them. Residents fill these plastic bags with personal care items like shampoo, soap and toilet paper. Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri works with Operation Food Search to disperse the donated items to local food pantries and shelters. In 2013, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri set a Guinness World Record for the largest donation of personal care products—1.4 million items. Since the launch of April Showers, more than 21 million items have been collected.
“Girl Scouts outdid themselves with this year’s collection of 1,358,496 personal care items” said Sunny Schaefer, executive director of Operation Food Search. “It’s wonderful to see the mountains of diapers, toilet tissue, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes, combs, detergent and so many other items that were collected. It is an amazing synergy of thousands of Girl Scout volunteers, corporate partners and generous members of our community helping our neighbors in need.”
Over 900,000 people in Missouri live below the federal poverty level. These families often must choose between buying food and paying for basic needs like housing, heating or healthcare. This choice leaves little room for purchasing personal care items, which plays a vital role in physical health and mental well-being. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits cannot cover the purchase of personal care items and are often expensive. Good personal hygiene can reduce preventable illness and increase self-esteem.
Community service is an integral part of being a Girl Scout, providing girls with an opportunity to practice teamwork, build critical thinking skills, and empowering them to make changes in their community. Through service programs like April Showers, Girl Scouts across the eastern Missouri region are making a difference each day.