Elsa Witkiewicz, 13, of Trevor, Wisconsin, a member of Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast and an eighth-grader at Trevor-Wilmot Consolidated Grade School District, helped organize a donation drive to assemble more than 160 bags stuffed with makeup and toiletries for teenage girls in foster care and young women at a local women’s shelter. When Elsa was younger, her mother took her to distribute duffle bags to the homeless, an experience that crystallized her desire to help others. Years later, when she and fellow Girl Scouts were volunteering at a food pantry, she decided she wanted to do something to help girls in need feel better about themselves. “I knew having makeup, perfume, and special pampering items were things most foster girls probably didn’t have because they are expensive,” Elsa said.
So in December of 2018, Elsa and another Girl Scout began a project to make these girls feel special. They sat down with the board of the county foster care system, which wholeheartedly supported the project. Collections kicked off in March and ran through May. Then they asked 10 local businesses for permission to place donation bins on their premises; contacted a printing company for help with brochures, cards, and bags; and arranged two media interviews to spread the word. Donations soon rolled in from individuals and even the local Target store, which donated face wash and lotion. Every two weeks, the girls picked up donated items from the bins and stored them in Elsa’s basement. In the end, the girls easily surpassed their goal by delivering 168 bags, each stuffed with 50 to 60 items, including makeup, toiletries, sanitary items, writing utensils, snacks, a confidence-building brochure and a hand-written card.