Helping the Victims of Hurricane Sandy

To our girls, adult volunteers and donors:

What follows is an update from Girl Scouts USA about their involvement in aiding our fellow Girl Scouts, their families, staff and volunteers who suffered untold losses in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Actions in Support of Hurricane Sandy Relief and Recovery

We continue to be in close communication with the councils who have been most impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The stories are amazing and the stories are heartbreaking. Girls and their families, staff and volunteers, struggle with personal hardships from total loss of their homes to extended waiting for electrical repairs so that their power can be restored. Winter is upon us making it that much more difficult. Yet through all of this we hear the stories of these same Girl Scouts being out serving their communities through these hardships – one troop organized a Movie Day for the entire Service Unit in one of our hardest hit areas; several troops engaged a laundromat to donate several hours of the shop's time so the girls could take in the laundry of those in need.

Though hard to believe, it is now a month since the storm. Let me update you on Disaster Recovery efforts locally and provide information on how you, your Council and the membership can continue participation in this recovery effort. This work can be precedent-setting for handling disasters going forward.

Sisterhood: Girl Scout Councils and GSUSA

GSUSA and sister Councils have been providing specific support to the hard hit councils based on individual council needs. Initiatives include those mentioned in other communications such as loaned-ranger support, CEO-to-CEO Disaster Recovery Support, Council Twinning, and fund development templates for council fundraising efforts in support of recovery.

Additionally, impacted councils are receiving donations from sister Councils and GSUSA is setting up the process for administering the funds received in the Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund.

Community Action: National Partnership to Help Communities in Times of Disaster
One of the founding principles of Girl Scouts is the commitment to make the world a better place though service to our communities. During these challenging times after Hurricane Sandy, Girl Scouts from around the country have dedicated time, resources and energy in the recovery efforts.

Girl Scouts of the USA sought to provide additional opportunities in engaging our Movement in these efforts as the need is still great in the affected areas. In order to coordinate our endeavors nationwide, Girl Scouts has partnered with New York Cares, one of 250 action centers of the Hands On Network, the direct service arm of Points of Light, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose network includes affiliates in national disaster response.

• The New York Cares Coat Drive is more important than ever in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. New York Cares is aiming to collect a record 200,000 coats this year, and they need 50,000 coats immediately to distribute to New Yorkers in Staten Island, the Rockaways and other hard-hit areas. Details on how Councils and girls can get involved and make a difference are attached.

• For those on the eastern corridor interested in more direct service opportunities, we encourage you to visit the Hands On Network website for additional recovery and rebuilding efforts .

The New York Cares coat drive and the Hands on Network enable you to get involved immediately; however, Girl Scouts, as part of our ongoing leadership development work with girls, is committed to not only disaster response but also emergency preparedness. As such, we have partnered with the American Red Cross for the Martin Luther King National Day of Service January 31, 2013. The American Red Cross is inviting local Girl Scouts to contact their Red Cross chapters and develop fire-safety preparedness and other readiness plans, and to educate their communities on these initiatives. More on how you can participate is also attached.

Girl Leadership in Times of Disaster

These sister Council and GSUSA initiatives and partnerships are just some of the ways that we as Girl Scouts can lead in difficult times. Our girls are very creative and caring and may want to develop their own way of leading. And our staff and volunteers can guide girls to think about meaningful Take Action efforts. Our Leadership Experience is all about preparing girls to act as leaders as the world changes around them; so to aid with creative action in times of disaster, two GSLE-based guides have been developed.

For Girls:

What Can A Girl Scout Do When Disaster Strikes

For our Volunteers and Staff
What Girl Scout Leadership Looks Like in Times of Disaster

Thank you to our members who have reached out to our eight affected councils and to Girl Scouts of the USA to offer your assistance and well wishes. This is truly Girl Scouting in action.