For the second year in a row, Girl Scout troops in New Haven, Mo., set a new April Showers record for their area. They collected more than 3,100 items, more than the town’s population of 2,096, according to www.city-data.com.
April Showers is the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri’s annual personal care item drive for families in need. Council-wide, troops leave plastic bags on residents’ doors. Listed on the bags are the items in need. The following weekend, girls return to collect the bags, hopefully filled with the requested items.
“New Haven is a community very supportive of its young people and the projects they are involved in,” said Vera McDowell, Troop Organizer. “It is also a giving community that believes in helping each other out when the need arises. Our success speaks of the people New Haven is made up of and their commitment to our community.”
“Our April Showers program accomplishes two goals. First, it provides personal care items to those in need,” said Bonnie Barczykowski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. “Second, it teaches our Girl Scouts the value of community service and the importance of giving back to their communities.”
In addition, there is “Showering the Community,” where troops stand in front of area Walmarts, passing out raindrop-shaped lists of needed items to shoppers as they enter. To represent the event, some troops wear raincoats and galoshes or hold umbrellas. Participating customers drop off donated items as they exit; some donate cash instead. Girls use the contributions to purchase additional items.
“April Showers is an opportunity for the girls to step out of their comfort zone and speak to total strangers about something that is important to them and their community,” said Vera McDowell, Troop Organizer. “If you have never stood in front of a Walmart trying to speak to people coming in to the store, you cannot truly appreciate how much courage it takes all the girls who do this every year.”
The program has taught the girls the importance of giving to others and taking care of their community. They are training the next generation of "New Haveners" to carry on the legacy started many generations ago.
McDowell said that April Showers is an opportunity for the older girls to mentor the younger girls and for them to work together as a team. Sorting a large amount of items then boxing them all in the best manner possible to transport them to the food pantry challenges the girls’ problem-solving skills and gives them a great sense of accomplishment.
McDowell further cites family involvement as an important factor. She says they have almost as many adults helping as they have girls for April Showers. “Everyone knows how much April Showers means to our food pantry and does their best to help out. We always make sure that we thank the New Haven community for their generosity in these articles. After all, without them we would not be successful at April Showers.”