Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fry Box Bridging Gift

As I was wandering through the aisles of Hobby Lobby one afternoon, I came across some adorable fry boxes near the gift boxes and bags.  I purchased a package of 10 (with a 40% off coupon, of course).  After the discount, they cost about a quarter a piece.  I planned to hold onto them with the intention of transforming them into cute birthday party favors or holiday gift boxes.  Over the course of this harsh and seemingly endless winter, I have often found myself daydreaming about spring.  This May, our Brownie troop will bridge to Juniors.  When these girls bridged from Daisies to Brownies, I gave them a wooden plaqueAs they fly-up to the next level in Girl Scouting, I want to recognize their accomplishments with a small gift.  I remembered a Bridging gift idea I originally saw on Pinterest (here is a link to the actual blog post).  Today, I will show how I decorated and filled a fry box that I will give to the girls at their Bridging Ceremony in May.

I used a scrap piece of patterned paper to make a template.  Using this template, I would cut the scrapbook paper to cover the fry box.  I played around with the 6"x12" paper, bending and folding it to find the best way to wrap the box.  Then I traced the box and cut out the template.

After cutting the template, I made sure the edges of the paper matched the edges of the fry box when wrapped.  I knew I would have to do some trimming around the side edges, but this template would work.  I could cover two fry boxes with one sheet of 12"x12" scrapbook paper.

I bought 12"x12" sheets of green polka dot paper for $0.69 a sheet.  I could have waited for a sale, but I was excited to get started.  I cut the sheets in half.  I turned over one piece of 6"x12" paper and traced and cut out the template.

I used an Elmer's glue stick to adhere the paper to the front and back of the fry box.  I folded the paper around the sides like I was wrapping a present and then glued each side edge to the box.

Earlier in this post, I mentioned some wooden plaques.  Last year, I made more of these wooden plaques for the girls in my younger daughter's Daisy troop.  I had some ribbon remaining from that craft, and I decided to use it on these fry boxes.  A 10" piece of ribbon wrapped perfectly around the box.

I used tacky glue to adhere the ribbon to the box.  I held the ribbon in place for a minute until it dried.  When I cover the rest of the boxes, I will probably use clothespins to secure the ribbon until the glue dries.

I used the Creative Memories Circle Cutter to cut 2" circles out of white cardstock.  I used a gluestick to adhere the circle to the box.  I completed the decoration by placing a sticker on the circle.  I originally purchased these Brownie Girl Scout stickers from Michael's for the girls to decorate their pill bottle first aid kits.  

I adopted Donna's idea and filled the box with a package of Daisy seeds to remind the girls of where they have been.  I added a package of Junior Mints to represent their future in Girl Scouts.  I tucked the Brownie Wings and the Bridge to Brownie Arc in the bottom of the box.  Maybe we will serve brownies at the Bridging Ceremony? 

One of our troop meetings in April will be devoted to planning the Bridging Ceremony.  Not only will the girls be taking ownership of the event, they will be satisfying the 5th step for the Celebrating Community badge.  Please check back--I will share their ideas in a future post.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Brownie Badge: Philanthropist

Google defines philanthropist as "a person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, esp. by the generous donation of money to good causes."  Girl Scouts are philanthropists as they help make the world a better place, assessing needs in their community and helping others in need.  Brownies must complete five steps to earn the Philanthropist Badge.  The girls have a choice of three different activities for each of the five steps.  This post will describe what our troop did to earn this badge.

Step 1:  Learn what every person needs.  Our girls made "Needs" and "Wants" posters on their own at home.  They were instructed to cut pictures out of magazines and glue them onto the poster, labeling the pictures as either "needs" or "wants."

Step 2:  Investigate how to help people who are hungry.  The girls in our troop worked with Bake Me Home, an organization that provides families a present when they move out of a homeless shelter and into their new home.  To read more about this, please check out this post.  The girls also packed meals that will be given to starving children around the world.  To read more about this project, please take a look at this post

Step 3:  Find out how to help people who need clothing.  Our troop has been together for four years.  Over that time, they have collected eye glasses for OneSight, shoes for Soles4Souls, and pajamas for a local homeless shelter.  Each winter, their school holds a Father-Daughter Dance.  The school secretary collects and organizes donated dresses for students in the school who are unable to afford a new dress for the dance.  Many of the girls in our troop have donated dresses to Cinderella's Closet.  We decided these collections could count for this step.   

Step 4:  Know how to help in times of emergency.  One option for this step was to find out about helping people around the world.  I went on a mission trip to Mexico in February 2013.  I prepared a slideshow for the girls.  As we looked at the pictures, we talked about the children we met and the work we completed while we were in Mexico.  Through our discussion, we talked about all five of these badge steps.

Step 5:  Think--and act!--like a philanthropist.  The girls voted to donate $80 of their cookie sale profit to Feed My Starving Children.  This money will pay for the meals to feed one child for an entire year!    

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Feed My Starving Children 2014

For the past few years, a nearby church has hosted a Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) Mobile Pack Event.  FMSC is fighting to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world. They team up with churches, colleges, and other large groups, inviting people in the community to work a two-hour shift.  Volunteers work together to pack a special food product that was designed specifically to meet the nutritional needs of starving children.  They scoop rice, soy, vegetables, a vegetarian-based chicken flavoring, and a vitamin and mineral mix into a funnel which is dumped into a plastic bag.  Each bag hold six meals.  The bag is weighed and sealed.  These bags are then packed into a box that is loaded onto a truck.  Each box holds 36 bags.  These boxes are shipped out to starving children all over the world.  In a previous post, I described our family's experience working with FMSC.  

Our Brownie troop voted on the service projects they would work on this year.  They agreed they wanted to pack meals for hungry people.  Knowing how much my daughters loved serving with FMSC, we arranged for our troop to volunteer.  While FMSC holds weekend-long packing events throughout the country, Kids Against Hunger has a permanent site in Cincinnati.  The Volunteer Coordinator at Kids Against Hunger was willing to work with our group as well.  If you are in the Cincinnati area, check them out!

Upon arrival for the shift, we were handed a hairnet and instructed to remove all jewelry.  After signing in, we took a seat in a meeting room and listened to a brief orientation which included a short video.  We saw many children on this video who have been receiving meals from FMSC for quite some time.  They are no longer worried about their next meal.  They have food, clothes, and shelter, so now they can focus on their education.  We listened as many children shared their dreams of becoming engineers, flight attendants, teachers, journalists, and doctors.  These dreams are not much different from the hopes our Girl Scouts have for the future.  During our two-hour shift, we joined 100 volunteers to pack enough meals to feed 80 children for a year!  In addition, this troop donated $80 of their cookie money to FMSC.  This money will pay for the meals to feed one child for an entire year!  Not only were these girls fulfilling a service project requirement, they completed a couple of steps toward earning the Philanthropist Badge.  Most importantly, they were helping to make a difference in the lives of others...and they had fun in the process!  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Christmas Party 2013

Last year the girls in our troop planned their Christmas Party.  We devoted an entire meeting to sharing and voting on ideas.  This year the girls were busy earning badges, and our schedule did not allow for a party planning meeting.  The troop co-leader and I decided to plan the party for them.  We relied on Pinterest for inspiration.  The girls were invited to my house on a Friday night in December.  Due to heavy snow, we rescheduled the party for the following Wednesday during our regular meeting time (early evening).  I must remember that a Wednesday in December worked really well for the girls and all of our families.  

When the girls arrived, they started making Shredded Paper Art.  Each girl chose a piece of construction paper.  I provided paper scraps that has been sitting in our shredder for months.  The girls were instructed to use glue and the paper to make a winter scene.  They could use crayons and markers to add details.  Here are two of my favorites:  

As the girls created their winter scenes, they were called over to the kitchen sink individually to start on a light bulb snowman ornament.  Please check out this post for the details and photos.

At this point in the party, the girls were ready for a snack.  I made Melting Snowman cupcakes, using Cool Whip, half a large marshmallow, half a bite-sized peanut butter cup, and half a mini peanut butter cup to make the snowman and his hat.  I used mini chocolate chips for the eyes and an orange sprinkle for the nose.  I decided to bake a peanut butter cup inside the cupcakes.  The girls seemed to enjoy the surprise when they took a bite!

Once their bellies were full, it was time to start the games.  We started with the Minute-to-Win-It version of Pin the Nose on Rudolph.  I cut 12" lengths of red yarn and tied a piece around a large red pom pom, one for each girl.  We divided the troop into two teams.   We put a dab of Vaseline on their noses.  One girl participated from each team at a time.  She donned the antler headband, and they raced for one minute to see who could get the pom pom to stick on her nose without using her hands. This game is sure to elicit squeals of joy from a grade-school crowd.

We followed this crazy game with a quieter activity.  Each girl was given a 12" piece of foil and four pipe cleaners.  We chose red and green pipe cleaners since this was a Christmas party.  They were instructed to come up with something creative.  They were not allowed to use scissors, glue, crayons, or markers-just the foil and pipe cleaners.  Here are a couple of my favorite creations:
After they had shared their creations, we played the Guess Me Icebreaker Game.  I made labels for characters the girls would most likely know:  Rudolph, Santa, Frosty, Buddy the Elf, Nutcracker, Grinch, Scrooge, and Tiny Tim.  The girls had all played the game Hedbanz, so they were familiar with the rules.

Once everyone discovered the characters, we cleaned up the space.  We had several minutes until the parents were to arrive to pick up the girls, so we played one last game.  A troop favorite--Stack Attack.  This is the cup stacking game we introduced to the girls at the Christmas Party last year. 

This year's party was super fun and relatively inexpensive.  With the exception of the cost of the cupcakes and paint for the light bulb ornament, we had the supplies on hand.  That is my kind of party!  Thanks for reading.

Paper Mache Letters, Part 2

In a previous post, I wrote about covering 8" paper mache letters with patterned scrapbook paper.  I planned to decorate for the holidays by using the letters to spell out short words like "BOO" and "JOY."  I entertained the idea of doing this craft during our Girl Scout troop Christmas Party or at camp, letting each girl decorate her first initial.  Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Step 1:  Place letter backward on blank side of patterned paper and trace.

Step 2:  Cut out the letter.

 Step 3:  Paint the back and sides of the letter. 

 Step 4:  Be sure to paint the front edges of the letter.

Step 5:  Cover with a layer of Mod Podge.

Step 6:  Position paper on letter and press to adhere.

 Step 7:  Add another layer of Mod Podge.  Let dry.

Step 8:  Hot glue a ribbon to the back of the letter.  
 Step 9:  Embellish and Enjoy!

This is a relatively inexpensive and easy craft.  The girls had fun making the letters their own.  Thanks for reading!

Service Project: Project Linus

Project Linus is an organization that "provide(s) love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer(s).”  The Cincinnati Chapter distributes the blankets "through dozens of sites, including hospitals, social service agencies, shelters, pregnancy centers, police/fire/EMS units, etc. in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton & Warren Counties in Southwestern Ohio."  In January 2013, I entered a blog post about Thinking DayI wrote, "the (Thinking Day) theme for 2013 is 'together we can change children's lives,' and 'every mother's life and health is precious.'  Our girls have decided to make fleece blankets for Project Linus this year."  I asked readers to check back to read about the project.  I recently realized I failed to come through with the post.  Here we are an entire year later...

Our Daisy and Brownie troops combined to work on these blankets.  In the months leading up to our February event, I watched for sales on fleece at various fabric stores.  I purchased this fleece on sale at JoAnn's, also using a 40% off coupon. 

Here are the Cincinnati Chapter Fleece Blanket Guidelines from their website:
The Cincinnati, OH Chapter prefers single-layer fleece blankets. While we can place a certain number of double-layer blankets, most of the facilities receiving our blankets find them too heavy.
  • Baby -- 1 yard, cut in half yielding two 30" X 36" blankets. Finish with a hemmed or crocheted edge. (no fringe, please)
  • Toddler -- 1¼ yds
  • Child -- 1½ yds 
  • Teen -- 2 yds 
Blankets, just like kids, come in many sizes. They need not be these exact dimensions.
Please refer to this website for additional instructions and considerations.  The website discusses purchasing supplies, preparing the fleece, cutting the fleece, tying the fleece.  It also provides diagrams and troubleshoots potential problems.  My advice to you...use a good pair of scissors!

Our girls voted to complete the extra steps required by Project Linus to earn the official Blanketeer patch.  The patch measures approximately 3 inches high and 2 inches across and features Linus himself clutching his signature blankie.  They can be ordered from the Chapter for $1.75 each.  To earn this patch, every girl had to make a blanket to donate.  They had to recruit someone to make an additional blanket to donate.  They had to donate money or supplies to the organization.  A portion of the money the troops earned through the Cookie Sale was used to cover the cost of the fleece and some supplies for the organization.  I contacted our Chapter for a Wish List, but this link will give you an idea of the requests.  Knowing other family members would be making additional blankets, I purchased more fleece than we needed for the girls.  Several mothers reimbursed me for this extra fleece.  It was a good deal for all of us.  Please note that the Chapter Coordinator has changed since we worked on this project.  I would suggest contacting the Chapter before starting a project to learn of any changes that may have been made over the last year. 

Since our girls were Daisies and younger Brownies, we leaders decided to prepare the blankets before the meeting.  I placed a number on each blanket.  When the girls arrived at the meeting, they were given a number.  One by one, they claimed the fleece they would tie.  This not only saved us time, but there were no issues with girls not getting the print they wanted.  They spread out and got to work.  We leaders were happy with our decision to prepare the blankets in advance because several of the younger girls needed our attention as they were tying their fringe.  Most of the girls finished their blankets within the hour-long meeting.  Please refer to this website for drop-off locations and instructions.  Thank you for reading!

Service Project: Stuffed Socks

When our troop was filling mason jars with cookie mix at Bake Me Home this past fall, we learned about the Bake It Forward program.  
"Kids entering grades 2-9 can apply for grants of $100 each for a charity of their choice serving children in Ohio.  Each applicant must perform a summer service project for a charity that benefits children.  Amy and Emma then choose three winners and present these awards at a ceremony at The Duke Energy Children’s Museum.  Our winners also each receive a “Bake It Forward” t-shirt and a jar of Bake Me Home Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. This program is designed to encourage kids to be creative and get involved with other organizations in the community, furthering our mission of “promoting volunteerism.”
My daughter was inspired and wanted to get started on a service project immediately.  Together, we searched for ideas online.  We were directed to the Kid World Citizen website that lists 35 different service projects for kids.  My daughter was drawn to #19:  Stuff warm socks with snacks and fruit to pass out to people who are homeless.  After some brainstorming, she decided she wanted to stuff socks with a packet of hot chocolate mix, mini candy canes, and chocolate candies.  The gift was set.  Now she had to choose the recipients.  

Earlier in the summer, I began spending some time with ladies from our church and participants in a group called Having the Courage to Change.  HTCTC is a women’s residential addiction recovery program through City Gospel Mission in Cincinnati.  My daughter knew this group of women had a special place in my heart.  She asked if she could present the socks to the women in the program at a Christmas luncheon that was scheduled to be held at our church.  After making a few phone calls, it was agreed that this was a great idea.  

We went to a few stores looking for inexpensive pairs of socks since we knew we needed to buy a couple dozen.  We decided to order some fuzzy Christmas socks from Oriental Trading (They are no longer available on the website, so I am unable to provide a link).  (UPDATE:  I recently remembered the socks were ordered from LTD Commodities).  The socks were sold in packages of six.  Did I mention they were reasonably priced?  When the order arrived, my daughter discovered the red dye had bled onto the white areas of the socks.  She quickly learned that you get what you pay for.  I am pleased to announce that Oriental Trading LTD Commodities sent us enough packages to replace the defective socks.  No questions asked.  

We found boxes of Nestle hot chocolate packets on sale for $1 each.  We bought a box of mini candy canes for $2 or $3.  She was all set to stuff the socks.  For the past couple of months, she had been baking some Brookies that we could serve at the HTCTC luncheons we were hosting.  (This link for Brookies includes a recipe for brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  We usually use Betty Crocker Triple Chunk Brownie Mix and a roll of Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Chip Cookie Dough).  Knowing the ladies love this sweet treat, she decided to bake some Brookies, wrapping an individual snack for each lady.   

My daughter did not work with her Brownie troop on this project, but I am posting about it because it is a great idea for a Girl Scout service project.  The socks could be stuffed with a variety of goods and could be given to a wide range of people.  The costs could be covered by a portion of the money earned through Cookie Sales, and the girls could practice working within a budget.  I would love to hear the their ideas.  While my daughter will not be able to apply for the Bake It Forward grant with this specific project as she had hoped, I love her heart.  I am sure she will come up with another project idea to tackle this summer that benefits children.  Thank you for reading!