Count the members of Wilton Girls Scout Troop 50405 as kids who go a long way to help others. The Wilton girls–all 5th graders–invited their friends, families and members from the Sacred Heart University wrestling team to help them package meals for Stop Hunger Now. Altogether, the group packed 10,187 meals in just a few hours at the Cider Mill Cafeteria on Saturday, May 9.
The non-profit group Stop Hunger Now packages and ships meals to feed people in need, usually through participation of volunteer groups from corporate, student, civic and faith-based groups. In addition, the organization educates people about hunger and how to help end it. In 2015, they hope to package 45 million meals, and ship more than $9 million in donated aid, vitamins and medical supplies.
The girls started around 2 p.m. that Saturday and started by setting up the tables, and hanging posters to raise awareness about hunger, while the SHU wrestlers unloaded all the materials from the truck, including bags of vitamins, proteins, vegetables and rice. Each meal contains, rice and/or soy and is fortified with more than 23 vitamins and nutrients – all that is required is to just add water. Working in assembly lines, everyone helped to fill, weigh, and seal up the nutrient-rich meal packages which were then loaded back onto the truck to be eventually distributed to those in need.
Their hard work had actually begun well before the packaging event on May 9. The girls raised more than $3,000 needed to sponsor the event and purchase the materials for the meals. They raised the money by selling girl scout cookies and other items, and by securing donations from family members and local businesses, including Dr. Cynthia Fazekas-Young DDS, DMD.
The girls selected to do the event for Stop Hunger Now because they were inspired by learning how many people that they can help. The event was one just one of the ways the troop has participated recently to raise awareness about hunger in society. Other steps they’ve taken include:
- taking a Hunger 101 course offered by the Connecticut Food Bank to learn about food insecurity in the U.S.
- participating in the SNAPS Challenge, in which the girls experienced what it’s like to live on the average daily food stamp benefit of $4.16 per person
- holding a Food Drive at Cider Mill School and during the “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” event
- collecting donations for the Wilton Food Pantry at Stop & Shop. In total, the girls collected and donated over 500 items and $135 in gift cards to the Wilton Food Pantry.
- educating others within the Cider Mill community about hunger by sharing facts during morning announcements, making posters, and visiting with a Brownie troop.
Everything the girls have done to date is part of the their journey towards earning a Bronze Award, which is the highest award for Girl Scout Juniors. Their troop leaders, Jessica Rutherford and Jen Vermeulen, have said the girls have learned so much and have really come to understand the issue. The troop members absolutely agreed.
“It felt amazing to help so many people in just a short amount of time,” Melanie Rutherford said.
“The event was fun and it was great to know that I helped out over 10,000 people,” Sarah Case added.
“It was really great that we were able to help so many people from our community with all of these events,” Carolyn Hendricks said.
The other members of the troop are: Anya Bettegowda, Emily Bukowski, Aislynn Conway, Kathryn Cronin, Jamie Leventhal, Abby Morris, Maddie Rosa, Elizabeth Vermeulen and Cate Young.