A group of young girls made it their mission that no pet will go hungry this Christmas.
Brownie Troop 20238, with the help of Daisy Troop 20721, set up a drive asking local businesses and organizations for donations of dog and cat food and set out collection bins in area schools and businesses so they could provide pet food to area families in need.
Brownie troop leader Alicia Lensch researched mobile pet food banks, the amount of customers served each day and the amount of food an animal eats per meal so the troops would know how much they would need to collect. Since pets are part of their owner’s family, troop members decided to distribute the food they collected during the community’s annual Christmas meal hosted by Mercy Unlimited.
“They all love animals and wanted to save the world by helping the animals,” said Angie Sparks, leader of the Daisy Troop.
The girls were able to collect more than 1,232 pounds of food and received 108 signed promises from owners who pledged to take care of their pets.
“People just really reached out and it got bigger than we ever imagined,” Lensch said.
Through the service project, dubbed Jingle Paws, the girls passed out free dog and cat food during the community’s Miracle Meal on Monday, where they knew they could reach a lot of people in need. Since they did so well with their drive, leftover food has been donated to Paws for Caws, a new pet food bank in the county, and the Auglaize County Humane Society.
Third-grader Kora Sterling said they wanted to help people who couldn’t feed their pets.
“We wanted to give back to our community,” Kora said.
“I love my dog, he always sleep with me and is fun to play with,” she said. “I want everyone to be able to take care of their pets so they can have the same thing.”
Kora said she would cry if she would have to give up her dog because her parents could not afford to feed her pet, especially since she’s had her dog since she was a baby.
“It felt good inside to help,” Kora said. “You could feel the people smiling.”
Kindergartner Elizabeth Sidener echoed the sentiment.
“I would feel sad,” kindergartner Elizabeth Sidener said about having to give up a pet that she couldn’t afford to feed.
Kindergartner Audrey Sparks said they just wanted to help and it felt so nice to know that they did.
Several recipients of the pet food shared their stories, one woman rescued animals so she planned to use the food to help them, and another woman began crying as she shared her story about how her family fell on how times and how appreciative she was for the assistance.
Not only did the girls help area pets in need, but they gained valuable skills as they went out into the community themselves to ask for help with the project.
The Girl Scout mission statement is “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place,” and leader Angie Sparks said the project helped the girls achieve that.
“They gained courage and confidence by learning how to speak with business owners and community leaders and asking for assistance with their project,” Sparks said. “It also helped them to build character by learning about the needs in their community and coming up with ideas on how they could help make their community a better place.”
She said the project also taught lessons in manners and the the importance of saying thank you for each donation, as well as patience, as they waited for students to drop off food at their table each morning before school.
“The girls range in age from kindergarten to third grade so they may not fully understand what they are getting out of this project at this time,” Sparks said, “but projects like these will help lay the foundation for them as they mature and start to understand how important community service is.”