In this time of medical emergency, economic loss, and social distancing, it is more important than ever that Scouts show their commitment to helping others. Just as Scouts served in times of world war and those calls for sacrifice by the American people, Scouts and Scouting can now demonstrate their devotion to community service. Join us on this special weekend, and year-round.
The present need for social distancing will require many special precautions in carrying out any project, and all Scouts and Scouting units should follow local regulations and recommended safeguards. Wear your uniform. Help others while keeping safe.
Local food banks are being overwhelmed by demands prompted by empty store shelves and the lack of resources by families, many of whom do not have emergency financial resources or the ability to stockpile food. Call your local food bank to ask how you can help – they will need money as well as donations of food, paper goods, and other items.
Your help does not require face-to-face contact – it can be done through asking neighbors on a list-serve or leafletting the neighborhood to donate food by placing it on the front porch for you to collect and deliver (or to place it in your curbside box), by encouraging monetary donations to your local food bank’s link through social media, or by going to help the food bank itself. You could also set up a canopy and sign near a grocery store. Decide how you can help, make a plan, and enlist others.
One example of a social distancing food drive:
- Prepare door hangers/flyers to drop at everyone’s doorstep/doorknob announcing the time and date of your pickup. Include your name and unit; list the items most
- All donations should be in a bag or box on their porch/doorstep, or in your curbside
- Scouts and their adult driver wear disposable gloves when they pick up donations. Cover the car/truck storage area with a plastic sheet before
- Drop donations at the food bank without going inside, or as they instruct. (Of course, call them first for instructions and an )
- Dispose of all bags, gloves and plastic liners
Blood supplies are sorely taxed these days. Scouts may not be able to donate, but they can sponsor, promote, or otherwise support a community blood drive in conjunction with the American Red Cross or a local hospital.
Many of our fellow community members are restricted to home or to the institution where they reside. Why not reach out to the homebound or the elderly at home or in senior homes to see what they need or just to socialize? Lots of them could use a letter, email, text, or video chat, or maybe they could use grocery, medicine, or meal delivery. These activities can be done by a Scout Zoom group, Scout families, or by individual Scouts.
If you know seniors in your neighborhood or have a senior home nearby, try contacting them and asking what they need. If they need food or medicine, perhaps you can shop for them or pick up an order for them and deliver it to their front door. Perhaps you can write letters or emails to be distributed by a senior home administrator. Organizations that prepare meals for the elderly or other needy populations may also need help in preparation or delivery. Use your imagination!
Essential personnel, emergency workers, and others who must remain active in public are the most at risk and may have special needs. Find out if there is any way to help them, or to show your gratitude. Send food or treats. Send a thank-you message to a local hospital, caregiver, or first responder. Remember our military personnel, too. Even signs or chalk drawings can tell the workers and the public that we appreciate their efforts.
Sewing and Construction Projects
Mask-making, face shield construction, and other projects are easy to do, with plenty of instructions online. Make sure your intended recipient confirms their need and that you understand their requirements. Some have also made blankets, quilts, pillows, and dolls.
Every neighborhood street and park has a litter problem and collecting it can be done separately or as a small group. If you have not already done so, you can register your project as a Messenger of Peace international project. This is an easy way to show that you care about your community.
Get outside! Some projects may also help with advancement and merit badge requirements. Some examples:
- virtual tutoring to Cub Scouts or local groups about the importance of “conservation” or Leave No Trace guidelines.
- building birdhouses or bird feeders
- planting trees or gardening at home or for a neighbor
- helping elderly neighbors with their yard care
- removing invasive plants in a park
- stopping soil erosion near waterways or in parks
- helping at a zoo, wildlife sanctuary, or nature center
Historic or Civic Event Participation
Find out if there are any civic celebrations in your area and volunteer to serve as a color guard or usher. Some charitable events need help in distributing water and other goods, or in directing crowds. Remember that Scouts may not participate in political events except in very limited capacities, so check with your local Scout executive if you have questions.
Charter Organization Service
Many of our scouting charter partners have extraordinary service needs right now. Contact them directly and ask about helping.
Scouts are pledged to “help other people at all times”, and this is our time to step forward. Scout units can coordinate a project or Scouts can act alone, and it is important that every project be clearly defined, have a clear purpose and impact that is easily understood by participants, and be run by youths as much as possible. We should wear the Scout uniform in public while serving, and always observe the prescribed precautions by social distancing, wearing masks when appropriate, avoiding large groups, washing and using sanitizer on hands, and staying away if you are sick or have been exposed to the virus. This is our time to showcase the best of Scouting.
Reporting of service hours is now done through the unit’s Scoutbook account, even if your unit does not use Scoutbook for other management purposes. This is the official reporting location for Journey to Excellence purposes.