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State Honoree

Kendra Neilson

Oklahoma

and a seventh-grade student at Alva Middle School, designed and filled 40 “treasure chests” with toiletries, toys and snacks for children placed in temporary shelters. “I wanted to make this very stressful and scary time a little easier for the children,” said Kendra. She contacted the local family services agency to determine the children’s most important needs, and then recruited fellow Girl Scouts to help collect the items. Kendra asked local dentists to donate toothpaste and toothbrushes, and she received donations of soap and shampoo from local hotels. Other items were purchased with Kendra’s own money. She also obtained 40 shoe boxes from a local shoe store, which she decorated and filled with the donated items based on the ages of the children. Now, when a child comes to a shelter, scared and with nothing to call their own, they get to pick out one of Kendra’s treasure chests to keep. “This is only a small thing, but at a time when they have nothing, it means so much to them,” said Kendra. The project was such a success that Kendra and her Girl Scout troop plan to make it an annual activity.