We can never say it enough, but that won’t stop Scouts from trying: Thank you, essential workers.
In an effort devised and executed by the Scouts themselves, Troop 394 of Interlachen, Fla. (North Florida Council), created homemade signs to thank essential workers in their community.
“They have to work so hard during this pandemic and risk their safety when it may not even be their choice,” says Kelly Myers, Troop 394’s senior patrol leader. “I strongly believe it’s important to thank them for their hard work and support them during this time. A simple thank you can go a long way for someone who’s having a rough day.”
Working across physical distance but together via Zoom, the Scouts created signs for schools, fire stations, soup kitchens, food banks, hardware stores, grocery stores, post offices and medical offices.
And in a subtle reminder that the act of thanking essential workers bears no political affiliation, many of these signs were created using recycled political yard signs — the kind with two thin metal poles that stick into the ground and clutter medians for months.
The Scouts and their families resurfaced the signs, covering the old “Vote for So-and-So” messages with contact paper and putting in their place messages like “Thank You, Essential Workers.”
Troop 394’s effort quickly caught on, and soon families across Putnam County — even those not yet involved in Scouting — began creating signs of their own. The effort even extended to social media where appreciative posters used the hashtag #signsofkindnessputnam.
“I didn’t expect so many people from the community to jump on board with us,” Kelly says. “Everyone really came together, and it became so much more than just my troop doing a simple act of kindness.”
‘A simple act of kindness’
Troop 394, like other Scouting units across the country, has not let the coronavirus stop it from continuing to enjoy Scouting at Home. They have met weekly via Zoom, held two virtual campouts and even recruited two new members during this period of self-isolation.
During one of the troop’s Zoom calls, Life Scout Grace Bunch suggested the project to her troopmates.
“We all thought it was a great idea,” says Scoutmaster Ashley Myers. “It was great to see them take an idea and, with no map to follow, just figure it out.”
It sounds like Ashley Myers and her fellow adult leaders handled Grace’s idea skillfully. They stepped back to let the Scouts design and execute the plan — while still serving as behind-the-scenes mentors, supporters and drivers whenever needed.
“They asked the right questions,” Ashley Myers says, “and were creative problem-solvers.”
The process went like this:
- Collect signs: The Scouts used a combination of recycled political signs and new signs donated by local businesses.
- Leave supplies at collection point: The Scouts identified a central location where families could safely and separately pick up blank signs and decorating supplies.
- Design signs: Each Scouting family or community volunteer was responsible for creating their own sign from home. The members of Troop 394 made this fun by uniting on Zoom to make their signs together.
- Place signs: Each sign’s creator placed the sign at a designated location.
“We started in our own little town, and it has quickly spread to the county,” Ashley Myers says. “Soon we had non-Scouting families asking for blank signs. Suggestions of locations came in from all over our county. It spread to the county next door, and now another troop is ready to run the same project there.”
While the project was created with others in mind, SPL Kelly knows that she and her troopmates have benefited from the effort, too.
“Times are rough right now, and it’s very easy to get lost in our own heads and lives,” she says. “We’re all fighting the same battle with the pandemic, but we’re all fighting personal battles, too. Be kind to each other, and be kind to yourself.”
Even more words of thanks
While we’re on the subject, check out what happened when Boys’ Life magazine asked Scouts to share their messages of thanks for essential workers.