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Girl Scout cleans up more than 12,000 pounds of debris left from Hurricane Irma

Emily, a Girl Scout in the Florida Keys, looks on as trash gathered from one of her cleanup days is disposed.

Hurricane Irma struck the Florida Keys, full force, on September 10, 2017, leaving devastation and debris in its wake. Monroe County, which covers the entirety of the Florida Keys jumped in and cleaned up large debris – from remnants of boats to appliances. But small trash and debris remained long after the storm left.  

Girl Scout Emily decided she had to do something.

For her bronze award, Emily organized 5 clean up days to remove debris from her home key, Summerland Key. She created and distributed posters announcing each clean up date and time in her school and neighborhood and ran ads in local newspapers.  She made an appearance on US1 Radio to talk about her project, and local newspapers ran several articles on her efforts.

Neighbors, troop members, family and others helped.  A local church donated trash bags, rakes, work gloves and a water cooler that sustained all 5 clean-ups.  At each clean up, locals would stop and thank the group for what they were doing.

Emily spent 25 hours on the clean up. 

She used her cookie proceeds to pay for supplies used to collect the garbage (over and above all donated supplies) and she disposed of 12,360 pounds of garbage/debris in total.

“I never realized I could organize many clean ups, showing everyone there what to do. I didn’t know I could be a leader like that!” Emily says. “It was a great experience. I planned and organized volunteers, had gloves, trash bags and rakes. I showed them where to go and of course I had water for hydration. It was cool seeing everyone come and work together.”

“I did feel I lived the Girl Scout law on this cleanup,” Emily added. “I was being friendly and helpful and respectful to all the people there. I was caring for the environment. One thing I definitely did was make the world a better place. It was an amazing experience.”