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At 18, Caitlin Anderson has been working toward earning the highest award offered by the Girl Scouts, the Gold Award.

COURTESY PHOTO: CAITLIN ANDERSON - Caitlin Anderson, 18, has been working toward earning the highest award offered by the Girl Scouts, the Gold Award. Anderson developed a program that would provide an ongoing source of needed personal hygiene products and sock donations for Washington Countys Project Homeless Connect.

A Beaverton resident and local Girl Scout isn't letting the coronavirus pandemic stop her from helping others.

Caitlin Anderson, 18, has been working toward earning the highest award offered by Girl Scouts, the Gold Award, for two years. In that time, Anderson developed a program that would provide an ongoing source of needed personal hygiene products and sock donations for Washington County's Project Homeless Connect.

Girl Scouts requires participants to spend at least 80 hours on their projects. Anderson says she has spent at least 96 hours on her program.

"I got serious about (the project) junior year (of high school), because I found a cause that I was really passionate about," said Anderson.

She says helping people is her main focus because it's a lot of what she does, especially in the Girl Scouts.

"You have the organization to back you up, (and) you have a lot of people in Girl Scouts help you help other people," added Anderson.

The Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington serves 11,500 girls in 38 counties, with the help of more than 6,500 adult members, according to the organization.

COURTESY PHOTO: CAITLIN ANDERSON - While doing research for her donation project, Anderson realized socks were the number one item requested by homeless organizations and shelters.

"The Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place," said the youth organization in a statement. "Every opportunity in Girl Scouting develops these essential skills in an all-girl, inclusive, safe environment."

Anderson remembers joining Girl Scouts in the second grade. She decided to join because she could help people while making friends along the way.

As for what she learned, Anderson credits Girl Scouts for teaching her important life skills such as leadership skills and time management.

She then used those skills to develop a project that would help the homeless community throughout the county.

"When we lived in California, my mom actually worked to help the homeless population a lot," explained Anderson. "So, I heard a lot of the struggles people experiencing homelessness had. I grew up on those values of trying to help other people and hearing about their struggles every day."

When she first started the project, she named it the hygiene drive, because she realized "that as a woman, a lot of people need certain items that I'm sure, people like us, take for granted."

Anderson then called different homeless organizations, nonprofits and shelters to ask them what items they needed. She found that women's hygiene products were in high demand.

"It's important for someone looking for a job to have those products … and go into that job interview and not have any problems," she added.

COURTESY PHOTO: CAITLIN ANDERSON - Andersons website requested new and unopened items such as soaps, toothpaste, razors and lip balm for her hygiene drive. The items will be donated to Washington Countys Project Homeless Connect.

In terms of clothing, the item of greatest need, Anderson said, is actually socks.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, she couldn't ask for the items at her high school, so Anderson made a website to start collecting donations back in April. The website requested new and unopened items such as soaps, toothpaste, razors and lip balm.

"I would pick them up contactless from people, or they could go to the center themselves with these items," explained Anderson.

The Mountainside High School graduate also created a flyer and handed it out to as many businesses as possible to get the word out, along with posting the flyer on social media.

Usually Gold Award recipients celebrate in person, but Anderson says Girl Scouts will most likely honor participants virtually.

As for the future, Anderson doesn't know what career is in store for her, but she hopes her Girl Scouts project will help her figure it out in the long run.

"The skills that I've learned from this project will help me be successful in the future," she said. "Not in just careers, but if I want to do projects like this again and collect donations and help people. The skills? I would not trade anything for that."

For more information or to donate, visit caitlingoldaward.weebly.com.


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