Sisterhood of the Traveling SmilePacks


Have you ever gotten a gift from someone you didn't even know? Fourteen-year-old Freslène of Haiti never had until recently. At first she was surprised as she opened her packet of hygiene supplies, topped off with a personal note and a handmade bracelet. But when she read the note and found out who it was from, it meant even more. 

The gift was from Anna South, a seventeen-year-old girl from Orange County, California.  As part of her Girl Scouts Gold Project, Anna had decided to partner with Children of the Nations (COTN), and assemble SmilePacks® for teens in Africa and the Caribbean. The packs were similar to COTN's standard SmilePacks, except that Anna added a few extra items with teens specifically in mind. 
Anna designed a special SmilePack for teens
Anna designed a special SmilePack, had it approved by COTN's Resource Director, and packed 98 to send to teens in the countries COTN serves. Then she packed even more!
"I tried to put thought into each item," she explains. Her packs included items that teens specifically need—from washcloths and soap to calculators and composition books. She also added the note and bracelet, to communicate a message. "I wanted them to realize that they are thought about, and that we are a lot more similar than they think," she explains.
Anna was right—though the supplies she included will help these girls stay in school and get the things they need, it was her note that meant the most to them. 
"I've never received from someone encouragement as Anna did in her letter," says Freslène. "That makes me think that I am valuable as a teen, and motivates me to live my life with wisdom and love." 
The girls loved their SmilePacks, especially Anna's letter
                  The girls loved their SmilePacks, but the thing that meant the most to them was Anna's letter.
Anna was also hoping that her gesture would inspire the teenage girls who got the packs. "I hope that one day, they will want to do something similar to help others and pay it forward," she says. 
For Freslène, that was exactly what happened. She was so moved that a teenage girl who didn't even know her would care enough about her to send a gift and note.  "It gives me hope as a teenage girl," says Freslène. "I now know I can bring hope and happiness to other teens." 
Give a child the tools they need to succeed, and the gift of hope!  We need School SmilePacks for our upcoming shipments to Malawi and the Dominican Republic. Assemble a SmilePack, or organize a drive today!