MONROE, CT — Families in need of assistance depend upon the Monroe Pantry to provide food for meals they prepare at home. Now, thanks to a donation of 50 birthday bags and small toys, they can also bake a cake for their child’s special day.
Four Girl Scouts from Troop 34082 did the planning, budgeting, shopping and assembling of the bags for their Bronze Award Project, and delivered the donation to the food pantry on Route 111 Friday afternoon.
Anna Glus’s pickup truck was loaded with boxes filled with toys and 50 birthday bags, each containing cake mix, frosting, birthday candles, paper plates and napkins.
“Birthdays are very big in our families, so we want everybody to have a special birthday,” said Monica Glus, one of the Girl Scouts.
Scouts completing the project with Monica included her twin sister, Betty, Coralina Goyette and Angelica Klittnick. The Bronze Award is the highest a Junior level Girl Scout can achieve.
Among the requirements of the project is to do something sustainable, so the girls came up with the slogan, “Have a birthday. When it’s your birthday, create a gift bag.” The Girl Scouts encourage others to donate gift bags to the food pantry on their birthday to keep the program going.
Kim Cassia, the town’s Community and Social Services director, said the girls approached her about doing their project, so she suggested it be geared toward kids, because there are around 100 children from families using the Monroe Food Pantry.
“I threw that out and the kids went back and forth with Coralina,” Cassia recalled.
Glus said the girls worked with her on the budget for a shopping trip on Sunday, Sept. 19.
Kate Goyette, Coralina’s mother, said the ShopRite in Shelton was having a sale. Cake mix was 77 cents a box and icing was 88 cents each, but there was a limit of four per flavor.
When they told store staff what they were doing, Goyette said they let them buy as many of whatever they needed — all at the sales prices.
“We bought all the frosting,” Monica said.
Glus said a woman who was shopping wanted one of the flavored cake mixes, so the girls gave up one from their carts and chose something else. When the woman asked why they had so much cake mix and frosting in their carts, they told her about the project.
“She was so moved, she made a donation to the troop for the toys,” Glus said.
After the shopping trip, the Girl Scouts assembled the birthday bags in Glus’s car in the Great Hollow Lake parking lot.
On Friday, the girls unloaded the pickup truck at the Monroe Food Pantry.
Each birthday bag has a label on the outside listing the contents. For instance, one says, “yellow cake, milk chocolate icing.”
After choosing the bag with the cake and frosting them want, parents can choose a small toy for their child. The paper plates and napkins inside the bags have children’s themes like dinosaurs and mermaids.
Two weeks ago, before the Girl Scouts’ Bronze Award project, Cassia said the food pantry was down to one box of cake mix.
“The actions of these young ladies is going to help provide birthday bags and gifts for the children,” Cassia said. “Now the kids will be able to have cakes on their birthdays.”
Cassia said the 50 birthday bags will keep the pantry going for a while, but she hopes other people donate bags in the future, so the pantry can have them for the remaining 50 or so children.