Archive for Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Girl Scouts’ food drive to help other youths

May 16, 2007

Junior Girl Scouts from Troop No. 680 held signs and jumped up and down to encourage motorists to add to their already-growing pile of donated food items Saturday afternoon.

The 15 fifth-graders from all three Basehor-Linwood district elementary schools took their post at the 155th Street entrance of Basehor Town Square after collecting nonperishable food items door-to-door at more than 800 homes in the Basehor and Linwood areas.

Their Food Drive for Kids by Kids project was organized as the last step toward earning their Bronze Award -- the highest award a Junior Girl Scout can earn.

"What the girls have to do is choose a focus," said Tammy Oakes, troop leader. "All your work has to be in your focus area. Our focus was kids and food in the community, and so we chose to do the Food Drive for Kids by Kids. It's really taken about two years to work towards this, so it's quite the project."

To qualify for a Bronze Award, the girls had to earn four badges, two of which had to be in the focus area. Each badge required the girls to complete six activities. Other activities included leading the Pledge of Allegiance and Flag Ceremony at a Basehor City Council meeting, collecting and sorting recycling materials at City Park and assisting at the Police and Fireman Appreciation Dinner.

The Bronze Award final project is required to take approximately 15 hours and provide a community service.

The girls chose their project after Oakes shared with them some statistics she learned while listening to the radio. She said several children count on their school lunch as their primary meal of the day.

The girls decided to collect food that was easy for children to make when they were home from school during the summer months and could not take advantage of school lunch programs.

The girls were divided into groups to deliver food collection bags and fliers to several neighborhoods last week. They returned Saturday to pick up filled bags on doorsteps.

Girl Scouts Madison Oakes and Amber Garver said the experience was rewarding.

"It was tiring, but it's going to make a lot of kids happy," Madison said.

"It made a difference," Garver added.

The girls also made the food drive into a community affair by getting several local businesses involved. Oakes said Reece and Nichols Premier Realty donated the food donation bags as well as the food drop off location in Basehor Town Square. The UPS store photocopied and cut the information notes for the food collection bags, and Michelin Tire and Douglas Brothers Construction Company also gave a monetary donation. Girl Scout parents also were busy driving the girls around neighborhoods and manning the drop-off station.

"There are so many parents in our troop that are incredibly helpful," Oakes said. "It's not just the girls. It's really a group event."

The Basehor-Linwood Assistance Services with the Basehor-Linwood School District picked up the donated items at the end of the afternoon and will be distributing them to children and families in need across the district.

Debbie Dearinger, assistance services coordinator, said organizing a food drive around this time of year was a good idea because the food supply from holiday food drives is usually running low by spring and early summer.

"I have 23 families I help at Christmastime, so that's my goal -- to touch base with them to see if they need help through the summer," Dearinger said. "We've never had one (a food drive) this time of year. It was an awesome idea."

Oakes said the girls have now completed all the requirements for the Bronze Award and will be presented with the honor at an upcoming ceremony where the girls will "fly up" to the next level and become Cadets.

"We've done six volunteer projects this year plus the Bronze Award, so that's quite a substantial amount of volunteer work for a Girl Scout troop," she said. "I'm so proud of the girls. They're just fabulous."

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