SUMMIT, NJ - While 'Be Prepared' is the better known of the two, 'Do a Good Turn Daily' is a Girl Scouts pledge that proactively positively impacts others in the community.

Jefferson Elementary School-based Girl Scout Troop 41120 takes this more-than-a-century-old creed to heart and, recently, did just that as the Troop's eight girls collected close to 100 blankets in their quest to help local charity Be the Change provide the homeless with direly-needed warmth as the winter days turned frigid.

As Girl Scouts progress from Daisy to Ambassador, the badges and awards they earn symbolize new and higher levels of achievement—and ultimately a deeper understanding of what it means to be a leader. Current Troop 41120 co-leaders Maria Darmer and Kelly Stanton have led the troop for the past four years and were looking for a way for the girls to actively engage in helping the less fortunate. They asked Summit resident Karissa Brand-Figueroa, a leading member of the Kean University chapter of Be the Change, to give a talk at their troop meeting last fall. 

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“Karissa is well-known locally as someone who always reaches out to help those in need, so we knew she’d be the perfect person to come speak to the girls about making a difference,” said Darmer. “She talked to the girls about how it feels to not have all the basic essentials, like a home, clean clothes, and enough food. The conversation delved into what it was like to be homeless and to have to live out in the cold day after day. Karissa shared that one of their biggest needs right now is blankets.” 

Troop 41120 quickly mobilized and created colorful posters for their three collection boxes, which they set out at the The Connection, the Summit YMCA, The Connection and the City of Summit Community Center. The Troop and its leaders were amazed at the community’s response.

“Within no time at all, the boxes were overflowing. Kelly and I have been washing blankets for a week non-stop,” says Darmer. 

The girls will take the lessons they learned from the initiative with them as they seek new opportunities to help others. Darmer added, “All eight girls in our troop have shown exactly what it means to be a Girl Scout. They are lucky to live in a town like Summit, and learned that not far away someone isn’t as lucky. Just because they’re young, doesn’t mean that they can’t make a difference. And that was one lesson we wanted them to learn.”