Moved by the stories they heard about devastation from tornadoes in Arkansas, local Daisy Scout Troop 36519 took it upon themselves to collect several boxes of supplies to ship to families who lost everything.
One of the troop's leaders, Amy Caudill, was considering deleting her Facebook profile because she thought it was consuming her time.
"It seems to waste a lot of time I could be using for something else," Caudill explained. She originally hoped to reconnect with friends from her childhood - she was from a military family. The day she contemplated quitting the social media, she got a message from one of those military friends, a man she had not spoken with in nearly 20 years. He invited her to join a page to find as many of their military childhood friends as possible and get them all back togehter.
"Within 24 hours there wer around 40 of us," Caudill explained, "and a reunion was being planned for next year in our old stomping ground of Loring AFB in Maine."
The friend - a soccer coach - was from Arkansas, and shortly after the childhood friends reconnected, he posted to FB that one of the girls on his team lost everything in one of the monster tornadoes that struck last week.
"Their house was completely demolished," Caudill said. "As I watched his posts, my heart ached for this family."
When donations were requested, Caudill and her husband decided to send the family a gift card.
The generosity grew from there.
Our "daughters heard me talking about it and started asking questions," Caudill said. "They were trying to wrap their little heads around what it would be like" to lose everything.
They started suggesting ways they could help.
"My oldest, Samantha, suggested a back pack, and my youngest, Brady, emptied her piggy bank (all one dollar something)," Caudill said. They "told me we could give the kids stuff from our house and I could use her money to buy the adults things they need."
Caudill considered her children's desire to help the Arkansas family.
It "got me thinking about how I could do more," Caudill explained. "That's when I thought of our Girl Scout Troop and the power in numbers. I immediately called Jen Fox-Riggins," the manager of membership and community development for the local Girl Scouts, "to see if it was OK to do this and then called our other leaders Beth Graham and Maria Schultz to see what their thoughts were. They loved the idea as did Jen. The more Jen and I talked I realized this may be bigger than helping one family. If we got enough stuff, we were thinking we could also involve the Girl Scouts in Arkansas by having them distribute the donations. Right before our meeting last Wednesday the troop leader from Arkansas called me and told me the story of two of her troop girls losing their houses right down to the foundation."
Caudill showed the local Daisy Scouts and their parents pictures and video of the devastation in Vilonia, Arkansas.
"I showed the girls pictures so they would understand what a tornado could do, and I told the story of the families," Caudill explained. "I then told them all of the kids' names and what their situation is like now that they have nothing left. Our girls were very receptive, and when we asked them to list some things they might want to give to the families, their little hearts poured onto the papers. At one point one of our girls raised her hand and told me, 'I think I am going to save all of my money and my mom can save all of her money and we are going to buy them a house.'"
"Needless to say, I couldn't speak for a few minutes and may have needed a tissue box," Caudill shared.
"And so our project began," Caudill said. "I asked all of the girls to consider what they could give and to tell friends and family the story and see if they would be interested in helping."
"I let the troop leader and my friend in Arkansas know we were going to try to collect some things to send their way and they were overjoyed by the idea," Caudill continued. "In one week we filled eight six-foot-long tables with items including food, clothes, toys, toiletries, books, shoes, batteries and many gift cards."
"We spent our meeting Wednesday sorting and packing boxes for each of the families," Caudill said.
But, the most precious thing being packed was the heartfelt pictures and cards made by the Daisy Scouts.
"Along with the families' boxes, we had one filled with extras for their Girl Scout Troop to distribute," Caudill added. "We ended up with five very large boxes and one medium box filled to the brim! We were concerned with how we were going to afford shipping the boxes but Beth's employer, Jones Cheverolet, offered to ship them all at their expense!"
Caudill is very happy she and her girls made the effort to help.
"This project has been overwhelmingly rewarding," she said. "I am so thankful to Jen and our troop's other leaders, Beth and Maria for their support and help on this idea. I am also so proud of our girls, their parents, and the community. To give gernerously even when the personal ties are not theirs is a wonderful act. I hope the families in Arkansas feel the love we are sending their way, and I hope that their recovery from this tragedy comes as smoothly as possible."