By Jennifer Ortiz
PLUMSTED – The young ladies in Junior Girl Scout Troop 266 recently hosted their first Night of 1,000 Meals to benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), an organization that provides meals to people in need.
The 12 fourth-graders in Troop 266 surpassed their goal of preparing 1,000 meals as they received more food donations than they had expected and packed 1,300 non-perishable bagged meals in just over an hour.
The event took place on April 21. A total of 102 Girl Scouts, their troop leaders, parents and siblings showed up at the New Egypt Primary School cafeteria to make a difference. The event was coordinated by Junior Girl Scout Troop 266 leaders Alicia Plaag and Jen Collier.
“Through the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore representative, we invited fellow Girl Scout troops from our Sunset Region to join with us in this community project,” Plaag said. “In what appeared to be utter chaos, with that many girls in one room, actually was very well managed chaos and for a great cause.”
Plaag said she was proud of the girls in Troop 266 for manning the tables and packing the meals on their own with only a bit of assistance from adults.
“They got so into it. It was very heartwarming and really exciting to see that the girls all had a great time … It was really amazing,” she said. “We had food left over that helped to pack the empty shelves at a local food pantry as well.”
Plaag said she is an advocate for community service.
“I thought, let’s tie this into the Journey badges the girls work toward,” she said. “The girls learned about being an agent of change and their personal power … about the power of team, and then, the power of community.”
The leader said she wants the girls to understand how something simple can really impact other people.
“We had a lesson on what it means to be hungry; that the girls have classmates who are hungry that they don’t even know about and who are getting assistance. Not all people are homeless, some people are in between paychecks, some of them work,” Plaag said.
Plaag said it took three trips Trenton, in a minivan filled with food, to deliver all the food that was collected. She said representatives of TASK appreciated the effort and asked if the troop would do it again. Plaag said she would like to make the food drive an annual event.
She said the girls have also prepared meals and delivered them to Ronald McDonald House in Long Branch, collected toys for a children’s hospital and are working on a community friendship walk to bring awareness to juvenile diabetes.
“One girl in our troop has juvenile diabetes … We were hoping to do an awareness walk. It would be something small where the girls would invite friends to participate and make donations,” Plaag said, adding, “I am so very proud of these girls.”
Other Girl Scout troops that were involved in the Night of 1,000 Meals were Troop 440, Troop 63, Troop 50463, Troop 93, Troop 50136, Troop 50005, Troop 50402, Troop 38, Troop 266, Troop 593, Troop 33, Troop 50114 and Troop 550.