Youths do yardwork on weekends to raise money for Monroe Food Pantry

Pictured at the Monroe Food Pantry From left is Bhuvan Hospet, Arya Nadgouda, Richa Rao, Bhumika Hospet, Omkar Maralappanavar, Aarav Nadgouda, Monroe Food Pantry Coordinator Julie Banks and First Selectman Ken Kellogg.

MONROE, CT — Six area youths sacrificed their weekends to do yardwork all over Connecticut this past fall, mowing lawns, raking leaves, landscaping and chopping wood. They raised $750 for the Monroe Food Pantry and a match from a private donor will double that amount to $1,500.

On Sunday afternoon they presented a check to Julie Banks, coordinator of the food pantry, in an event attended by First Selectman Ken Kellogg.

“Two hundred to 250 families at any one time depend on this food pantry,” Kellogg said, praising the group for their generosity and for supporting their community at such a young age.

Bhuvan Hospet, a Masuk High School student who has raised money for the pantry in the past by hosting coding camps with his friends, is among the group who worked hard for Sunday’s donation.

He was joined by his sister, Bhumika Hospet, a Fawn Hollow Elementary School student, and their friends Richa Rao of Stamford, brothers Arya and Aarav Nadgouda of Guilford, and Omkar Maralappanavar of Brookfield.

“We started as a group two years ago when the pandemic hit,” Bhuvan Hospet said. “A lot of us didn’t have stuff to do. We were bored, so we started doing yard cleanups and helping out the community.”

“We really appreciate the work you do for the community,” Maralappanavar said to Banks.

They formed Team BOAR, with each initial representing the first letter of their names, and performed yardwork for charities.

Donations have gone to the Isha Foundation, an environmental nonprofit based in India with a center in Nashville, Tenn.; the Danbury Food Pantry, COVID relief, and Brookfield Cares, which offers mental health and addiction services.

Through family and friends, word of mouth and the Team BOAR Facebook page, the group has done yardwork in Monroe, Brookfield, South Windsor, Farmington, Danbury and Mount Kisco, N.Y.

There was parental supervision to ensure safety, because of the equipment the youths used, and the yardwork was an outdoor activity, making it more COVID safe.

Banks expressed her appreciated to Team BOAR for their generous donation, which will buy food and household items for the families who depend upon the Monroe Food Pantry.

Donations roll in

Among the generous donations the Monroe Food Pantry has received were items from Brownie Troop 34170’s Stock the Shelves Drive.

Banks said the community has shown generosity over the holidays. Among the donations was a collection drive by Jockey Hollow Middle School in early December, and over 700 pounds of items from Fawn Hollow Elementary School’s Brownie Troop 34170, which held a Stock the Shelves Drive.

The Brownie Troop had donation boxes throughout their school with labels for various categories like food, soap and deodorant.

The United Methodist Church of Monroe donated bags for Thanksgiving with turkeys and cards among the goodies.

“Someone told me she came across a client who got a note in his order,” Banks recalled. “He was so happy. There are things you don’t think of.”

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