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Local Girl Scouts organize successful girl-led Ukrainian relief effort

Local Girl Scouts from the Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways (GSNYPENN) Council—spanning 24 counties of New York and two in northern Pennsylvania—recently staged a successful girl-led supply drive to help Ukrainian relief efforts.

The supply drive was spurred by a March meeting between New York State Governor Kathy Hochul and GSNYPENN Cadette Troop 60500 of Holy Cross in Dewitt, N.Y. The troop traveled to the State Capitol in Albany as part of work on their Girl Scouts Democracy badge. They were afforded a meeting with the Governor where each girl presented Hochul with items special to Girl Scouts. Hochul presented each Girl Scout with a New York State Challenge Coin, inspired them to do more, and encouraged them to help the people of Ukraine by getting them much-needed supplies.

The small troop knew they could not do this alone. One of the Cadettes, a member of the council’s Girl Advisory Board (GAB), appealed to the GAB and staff mentor Serafina Sortino for assistance. The GAB consists of 13 Girl Scouts in grades 6-12 who advise GSNYPENN CEO Julie Dale and council staff on topics important to today’s girls.

Members of the Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways’ Girl Advisory Board (GAB) pack items donated through their supply drive for Ukraine.

Getting items to Ukraine is an expensive endeavor and requires expertise in understanding the process. The girls knew they needed a partner. With the help of volunteers involved with the GAB, the team found a great partnership with the Very Reverend Mitred Archpriest Mihai Dubovici “Father Michael” and St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Syracuse.

“From getting the word out via flyers they created to promoting the drive in their communities and on personal social media, to working with council staff to promote the drive to members across our footprint, to collecting donations at our Service Centers and regional Volunteer Appreciation Dinners this spring, it’s been truly amazing to see girl-led initiatives like this making a difference in our communities and globally to help those in need,” says Serafina Sortino, GSNYPENN Membership Engagement Manager and GAB staff mentor.

Through their collective efforts, word got around about the supply drive. Thousands of supplies were collected from across all 26 counties of the council through outreach made by the GAB, Troop 60500, the Jamesville-Dewitt Service Unit, staff and appeals to volunteers and members. Some items donated were even made by Lifetime Girl Scouts, including hand-sewn quilts.

Items were sorted and boxed for shipment. Members of the GAB packed close to 100 boxes filled with medical and personal hygiene supplies, clothing, feminine products and food. Earlier this month, the girls brought the boxes to storage space the church is using to stage donations. Father Michael shared with the girls that the church plans to send all donations later this month via a boat from New Jersey to Ukraine.

L-R GSNYPENN Membership Engagement Manager and Girl Advisory Board staff mentor Serafina Sortino, Father Michael of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church and Julie Dale, GSNYPENN CEO, stand with boxes of supplies donated through a local Girl Scout-led Ukrainian relief effort. 

The GSNYPENN Girl Advisory Board (GAB) includes the following members (and two others not listed for privacy reasons):

Mallory Coyle of Cicero, N.Y.

Cadette, Service Unit 112, Troop 60023

Aubrey Coyle of Cicero, N.Y.

Senior, Service Unit 112, Troop 10752

Rayna Reed of Jamesville, N.Y.

Cadette, Service Unit 137, Troop 60500 

Natalie Thompson of Oneonta, N.Y.

Ambassador, Service Unit 343, Troop 30007

Genevieve McGuire-Griffin of Syracuse, N.Y.

Senior, Service Unit 139, Troop 10410 

Josie Hall of Geneva, N.Y.

Cadette, Service Unit 405, Troop 40176

Adrienne Mitrus of Binghamton, N.Y.

Cadette, Service Unit 325, Troop 30001

Aarohi Rastogi of Syracuse, N.Y.

Cadette, Service Unit 101, Troop 10520

Quincy Bagley of Syracuse, N.Y.

Cadette, Service Unit 137, Troop 60500 

Skylar Lally-Brown of Syracuse, N.Y.

Cadette, Service Unit 137, Troop 60500

Angilee Haberer of Central Square, N.Y.

Senior, Service Unit 108, Troop 10871

GSNYPENN serves girls in K-12 across 26 counties: Allegany, Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Oswego, Otsego, St. Lawrence, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne and Yates in New York and Bradford and Tioga in Pennsylvania.

Annual membership is $25; financial assistance is available. To start her adventure, visit here. To become a volunteer, learn more here. To help make Girl Scouting possible for girls in your community, visit online.