"Service is a primary component of AHG's values to incorporate faith in the development of integrity, character and leadership skills," said Patti Garibay, national executive director and founder of American Heritage Girls. "Real experience serving others gives girls the opportunity to grow in their faith and discover their God-given purpose."
National Day of Service coincides with AHG's seventeenth anniversary. Since its inception in 1995, AHG membership has grown by 30-50 percent each year.
On this first National Day of Service, individual troops across the U.S. will select their own projects that fulfill the AHG mission to serve God, family, community and country. Projects include assisting in pregnancy care centers, collecting and distributing food to the needy, collecting and assembling toiletries for the homeless and assisting the elderly with home repair projects. Many will participate in local beautification projects from beaches to local parks.
The troop in Lake Dallas, Texas, will clean trash-filled river banks. Girls in Cincinnati, Ohio, will volunteer at a Walk for Life event. In Austin, Texas, and North Carolina, girls will assemble "manna packs," food for the homeless and needy. Maryland AHG participants will mow the lawn and complete yard work for a disabled neighbor. Others in Mesquite, Texas, will sort and pack donated shoes to be shipped to orphans in third-world countries.
This kind of service is one facet of the AHG 240-badge program that culminates in the Stars and Stripes Award, AHG's highest honor. To earn the Stars and Strips Award, girls must plan, implement and supervise a 100-plus-hour project to address a need in their community. This highest AHG award is equivalent to the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Award.
Boy Scouts of America recently recognized American Heritage Girls with a historic Memorandum of Mutual Support. It is the first of its type presented by Boy Scouts of America to an all-girls organization in its 100-year history.
On Sept. 15, 14-year-old Megan from St. Louis Troop MO1345 will spend National Day of Service at a pregnancy shelter. "Service shows that I care about people," Megan said. "I hope my service shows that Jesus cares for them too."
Nine-year-old Gracie agrees: "Making a meal together as a troop is fun, but my faith really grows when we give it away to someone who needs it more than I do."
American Heritage Girls (AHG) is a Christ-centered, nondiscriminatory character development program dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country. Founded in 1995 in Cincinnati, Ohio, AHG has grown from ten troops and 100 members to more than 20,000 members across four countries and 47 U.S. states. With emphasis on Christian values and family involvement, girls participate in badge programs, service projects, leadership opportunities and outdoor experiences.