Through the efforts of a Milpitas Girl Scout, 16 homeless individuals will receive a backpack of toiletries, designed to last three months.
The community service project earned Mylinh Khong the Silver Award, one of the highest honors in Girl Scouts. Troop 60245 is based at in Milpitas. Her membership level is Senior, for Girl Scouts in grades nine and 10.
"This year, the economy still has not recovered," she wrote in her final report. "Many people are still out of work. Many have lost their houses in the financial crisis. Many are homeless. I would like to make a difference, as a Girl Scout, by lending a helping hand to the needy."
Khong, who will start her sophomore year at Milpitas High in the fall, partnered with the Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose. She visited the nonprofit in November and delivered 16 "survival sacks" at the end of June.
Sacred Heart distributes about 200 survival sacks a month to their clients, mostly men, according to Mary Kate Mulcrone, community involvement coordinator.
It takes time and money to put them together.
While it's not uncommon for Sacred Heart to get a pack of razors or a bundle of washcloths donated, "the fact that she had them pre-assembled with all the supplies in them ... all we had to do was a quick quality check," said Mulcrone.
Soap and hygiene items aren't always provided at shelters, she said.
Khong collected and bought a total of 66 rolls of toilet paper, 103 toothbrushes and 109 bars of soap—along with deodorant, combs, socks, underwear, first aid kits, blankets and backpacks.
Christina Chaput, who leads Troop 60245, a multi-level troop of cadettes, seniors and ambassadors, said before Khong could even start the project, she had a year of prerequisites, including earning a number of Girl Scout patches.
In seven months, Khong did fundraising and made presentations to other troops. When she got her supplies together, other Girl Scouts helped her assemble the backpacks.
"She is on her way to get her Gold Award," said Chaput, referring to the Girl Scout's closest equivalent to an Eagle Scout.
If you would like to donate survival sacks to Sacred Heart Community Service, visit its website.