A Ladera Ranch Girl Scout troop made kits for frontline workers with wellness in mind.
Making the world a better place is a challenge on a normal day. How do you make it better during a global pandemic? Troop 3743 has an answer.
The Ladera Ranch Girl Scout troop would be an otherwise pretty normal group of 11- and 12-year-old girls but for one exception.
“Our troop has two moms who are nurses in the community, which we believe makes us unique,” says troop leader Zeena Dhalla. The distinction gave troop members a lot of insight to the strain being put on health care workers.
“The lightbulb moment happened one night during the early days of the pandemic as schools were shutting down, and before many of the health worker support campaigns had begun. My daughter, Zaleeya, and I were watching the news and started brainstorming ways [the troop] could help the frontline workers.”
The two quickly figured out that self-care kits — with a variety of goods like sleep masks, bath bombs, meal replacement bars, and of course, Girl Scout cookies — could go a long way in easing the extreme stress frontline nurses and doctors are currently under.
Ultimately, the troop created and dispersed more than 200 kits, and managed end-to-end contact-free delivery, with no Girl Scouts hand delivering kits.
“The next day we jumped on a Zoom call with the rest of the girls in the troop to discuss the kits, what to call them, how to safely distribute them, and what to put inside them,” Dhalla says.
The project came together so quickly in part, she says, because it was “a natural fit” for Scout ethics. “Core to Girl Scouts’ values is our oath to ‘Make the World a Better Place.’”
From that strong inception point, things picked up steam.
“One girl worked on ChapStick — and secured a donation of 150 — while another secured 100 essential oils. We had a few of these large donations. All donations were shipped to my home where my daughter and I organized them and then distributed them to each of the girls’ homes to put the kits together,” Dhalla says. “The other moms and troop leaders were critical to the mission by keeping track of donations, assisting with donation solicitation, and picking up and dropping off supplies when needed.”
The two-month project, which began in mid-March and finished in mid-May, gathered and distributed 205 kits to frontline health care workers around Orange County, with 48 reaching individuals and another 157 going to hospitals.
“The big win came when we got the reply from Lyft to help us with individual deliveries,” Dhalla says. “The medical workers were nominated by members of the community, and four different Lyft drivers went out and delivered kits to homes, sometimes starting in San Juan Capistrano and traveling all the way up to Brea.
“Both [nurse moms of troop members] were able to maximize their contacts in the medical community to help find people to walk the care kits into the hospitals, making it possible for us to ensure a contactless delivery from the troop,” Dhalla says.
Reaction was swift and heartfelt.
“We got a few ‘thank you’ pictures and emails right after that first delivery day in mid-April,” Dhalla says. “It was so heartwarming to see how excited and surprised some of the workers were with their bag of goodies.”
The girls were pretty pleased too — and plan bigger projects ahead.
“It was neat to do this because always being at home, and even going to school at home, we do not have a lot going on. So to do something that can make someone be happy and smile from my house was a very cool thing to do,” says troop member Kate Nguyen.
Dasha Updegraph says she liked giving back “to people who work so hard in the community, and to let them know that we appreciate them.”
Troop member Alina Motiwalla agrees, saying “it felt great.”
Dhalla’s daughter, Zaleeya, described the project as “amazing” because “it’s a great feeling to know that you are helping and inspiring people.”
— By Shawn Price