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A Creative Means for Community Service in times of COVID-19

The following post written by Carrie Mulcaire. 

How does a group of 8-year old Girl Scouts seek to reach out to their community and help those in need while maintaining health and safety during a pandemic? Parents expressed understandable concern for in-person community service work as the months COVID-19 ravaged on.

Back in November, Girl Scout Troop #15015 had a financial literacy lesson on philanthropy. Kristin Fabos, Second Harvest board member and Cabrillo Marketing Director, spared her precious time to serve as a guest speaker. She discussed the role of the local food bank in assisting with food insecurity in Santa Cruz County, especially during COVID-19. As a previous Girl Scout member, she understands the value of learning about service work at an early age.

Partnership is key – over 200 organizations partner on a weekly basis with Second Harvest. The food bank obtains discounts on food purchases with their wholesale buying power. So when you donate $1 to the food bank, you are able to provide 4 healthy meals.

It was decided – the troop would participate in Second Harvest’s 2020 Virtual Holiday Food drive to raise funds and food! The fundraising effort lasted through the month of December to emphasize the value of giving back during the holidays. The girls were imaginative in coming up with their own solutions to fundraising in a safe but creative manner:

· One troop member collected money from a lemonade stand

· Others emailed out a link to their food drive webpage for friend and family to donate

· Some posted the online food drive weblink on their parents’ Facebook page

· One girl recruited family members to make a large donation

· Many of the girls raided their own cupboards for canned food and advertised to their neighbors to drop off canned food at their door step AND

· The troop decided to donate a percent of cookie sale proceeds to the effort.

When talking with Second Harvest, we learned that they were struggling with identifying volunteers to pick up food from donated drop off sites – particularly near the end of December. So our troop offered to drop off the canned food directly at their Watsonville center. A few girls even got to pose with the Hungry Hero mascot after dropping off almost 400 pounds of food. In the end, Girl Scout Troop #15015 raised $1,073 or 4,149 meals, which is double their goal of $500 and 2,000 meals. One thing that we learned is that the USDA requires that all donated canned foods are valued by the poundage instead of the canned value amount, which means a $4 canned food item that weighs one pound is only valued at 20 cents.

“This year has been tough! I loved helping those in need because its important to help other people! Otherwise, this world would be hard to live in!”

Girl scouts and their parents expressed gratitude for participating in this experience: “It feels good to help families in our community! Part of being a Girl Scout is to be helpful!” noted one girl scout. Another troop member said: “This year has been tough! I loved helping those in need because its important to help other people! Otherwise, this world would be hard to live in!” Another parent said thank you for the opportunity for her daughter “to learn about ways to be thoughtful and giving!”

It’s not too late to help Second Harvest and those dealing with food insecurity in our county! If you visit Nob Hill or Raley’s, you can donate to ‘Food for Families” at checkout whereby 100% of the proceeds go directly to providing food to our local residents (and at wholesale prices). And Second Harvest’s website will always accept cash donations or you can drop off canned foods at various locations throughout the county. For more information visit, the For information about joining a Girl Scout troop, visit