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Pay it Forward
Service is one of the most important values we have in Scouting. The Scout Oath calls on us all to “help other people at all times.” The Scout Law says a Scout is Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind. These are maybe the most important ideas a young person takes away from their time in our program, no matter how long they’re with us.
Do you want Scouts to help you?
We’re honored you thought of us, and if there is a way our Scouts can help they’ll be happy to do so. Here are a few notes on what we do with all service requests:
- Each individual Scout unit in each neighborhood or community works independently; we don’t just call or email them and say, “here’s a project for you to do.” They all have their own calendars and may already have service projects they support where they live.
- We will direct all organizations or individuals seeking help to work with our partners as JustServe.org. This is a website that lists service opportunities big and small across several communities. People visiting this site can search by town or project type and find opportunities where they can be of the most help. The folks at JustServe.org will help you post your service request for free on their site. This not only makes your project visible to Scouts in Central Texas but also to thousands more people or groups looking to help.
Are you a Scout looking to help someone?
Our council has partnered with JustServe.org to help Scouts and Scout units find service project ideas in their communities. Visit the site and search by community or project type to find an opportunity near you.
Still need help finding ideas for a service project?
If you’re looking for ideas for a service project you haven’t done before – or maybe want to start doing as an annual tradition – here are some ideas. Remember, though: if you charge money for any of these you’re not providing service, you’re conducting a fundraiser:
Food – Food Collection
- This can include collecting nonperishable foods to take to local food drives or during seasonal food drives. Some locations to send Central Texas Food Bank, Hope Food Bank Austin, Caritas of Austin Food Pantry, Micah 6 Food Pantry, etc. To find more food banks, please see https://www.foodpantries.org
- Remember that this can also include food collection or drives for animals, either pets or wildlife rehab centers. Any Petsmart or local animal shelter will always accept new unopened pet food. Check out http://www.austinareawildliferehab.org/donated_items.html or http://allthingswildrehab.org/wish-list/ for a list of needs.
- Check out Urban Roots, which is farm which grows food for needy families: https://urbanrootsatx.org/volunteer/.
Food – Meal Delivery
- As a unit, you can volunteer to take a food delivery run, where the unit will need to deliver food regularly.
- For a one-time event, you can work with food groups to help take out food on special holidays.
- A good place to check is Meals on Wheels (https://www.mealsonwheelscentraltexas.org/get-involved/current-needs), Mobile Loaves and Fishes (https://mlf.org/volunteer), and Keep Austin Fed (https://keepaustinfed.org/volunteer), or your local house of worship.
Food – Food Serving
- Groups like Salvation Army, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Angel House Soup Kitchen, and Carnitas all offer free meals but need volunteers to help serve. See https://library.austintexas.libguides.com/socialservices/food for groups and links.
- Some nursing homes need help serving food and visiting with home bound residents.
- Helping serve food at a church, community, district or council event can all count for service hours.
Shelter – Home Building
- Numerous churches have mission or building projects.
- Scouts can work for Habitat for Humanities (https://www.austinhabitat.org/volunteer) or local community building volunteer opportunities, such as MLF’s Community First! Village (https://mlf.org/community-first/) or Rebuilding Together Austin (https://www.rebuildingtogetheraustin.org/volunteers).
- Make sure to check in with sponsoring organization and the Guide to Safe Scouting to make sure Scouts are old enough to work onsite.
Shelter – Personal Care Collection
- You can collect and even volunteer to help create care kits for organizations like Front Steps (http://www.frontsteps.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunties/ ), Homeless Backpack Network (http://www.homelessbackpack.net/ ), Mobile Loaves and Fishes (https://mlf.org/volunteer/), Feed My People (https://www.foundationhomeless.org/volunteer-fmp) and FreeStore (https://www.freestoreaustin.org/).
- During any natural disaster, kits of personal care items are always needed.
- Remember, personal care may not only be for people. Consider donating Dawn dish soap or making bird nest liners for animal rehab centers (https://wildliferescuenests.weebly.com/volunteer-registration.html)
- Collect personal care items for babies and kids for Rainbow Rooms (https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Protection/Rainbow_Rooms/default.asp) or to the SafeAustin Safe House (https://www.safeaustin.org/get-involved/in-kind-wishlist/).
Shelter – Blanket Collection
- Almost all natural disaster centers, homeless shelters, and animal shelters need basic, clean blankets.
- Consider making or decorating blankets to give to children’s hospitals or homeless shelters.
Shelter – School Supply Collection
- Contact your local school, libraries, or house of worship for local school supply drives.
- You can drop off school supplies to organizations like Foundation Communities (https://foundcom.org/), Salvation Army (http://salvationarmyaustin.org/get-involved/back-to-school-drive/), United Way (https://www.unitedwayaustin.org/get-involved/volunteer/), or Travis County ESD (https://www.traviscountytx.gov/news/2018/1686-sheriff-back-school-drive).
Shelter – Book/Magazine Drive
- Donate books to libraries, school, homeless shelters.
- Consider also donating books and/or creative materials to Austin Creative Reuse (https://www.austincreativereuse.org/)
Healthy Living – Blood Drive
- Please note, this one is mainly for adults. Youth under 17 cannot donate blood.
- Youth can help with promotion of blood donations and check-in for blood drives. See http://redcrossyouth.org/2018/11/23/volunteering-with-blood-services/ and https://www.redcrossblood.org/hosting-a-blood-drive/learn-about-hosting/why-host-a-blood-drive/k-8-blood-programs.html for kid specific blood drive volunteer ideas.
Healthy Living – Fun Run/Walk/Hike/Etc.
- Hosting or helping host any fun run/walk/hike/ride, etc.
- Serving water or fruit at such an event
- See https://www.runguides.com for a list of these in your area
Healthy Living – Bike Safety Event
- Hosting or helping host any bike safety event
- Serving water or fruit or manning check-in at such an event
- See https://bicycleaustin.info/events/ for more info
Healthy Living – Tree Planting
- Hosting or helping host a tree, shrub or native plant planting
- Serving water or fruit or manning check-in at such an event
- Planting trees or shrubs as part of a community project (planting a tree in your yard does not count)
- If you want to plant local, consider planting around your neighborhood through a program with your HOA or Neighborhood Association.
- Consider planting anything at your local camps – contact [email protected]
- See https://austinparks.org/, https://www.treefolks.org/,
Healthy Living – Litter Cleanup/Beautification
- Hosting and helping host a litter or ecosystem cleanup.
- Any amount of cleanup or beautification, which can include picking up trash, removing exotic or encroachment flora or fauna, clearing overgrown areas, putting in recreation items or habitat improvement.
- Consider working at any public park or one of our camps.
- Teaching merit badges at council or district level
- Serving as a NOVA or SuperNOVA mentor to other unit
- Serve as a Distinguished Conservation Award Advisor
- Serve as an Eagle Advisor or District Advancement Chair
Record your service hours!
No matter whom or how you help, make sure your report your service hours so they will count towards your “Journey to Excellence” (or JTE) score. JTE is a self-evaluation tool that lets unit leaders see, quantitatively, how well their unit is meeting the goals of Scouting. To reach JTE “Gold” status (that’s the best), Cub Scout Packs and Sea Scout Ships must report four service projects each year. Scouts BSA Troops and Venturing Crews must report six service projects each year.
Here’s what to do:
If you’ve never reported service hours information before:
- Contact our council Registrar at (512) 617-8618 or [email protected] and ask for your Unit ID number and Local Unit number.
- Enter your Unit ID number and contact information, then click “Register”
Once you’ve registered, or if you’ve previously registered and have logged in, follow these steps:
- Enter project information under one of these four areas: Food, Shelter, Healthy Living, Other
- Click “Submit”
- Repeat the previous step for as many service projects as you have to report
- You should see a screen confirming your data has been received and recorded