A ‘collective’ effort

The Girl Scouts in Hornets’ Nest Council Troop 440 are a shining example of how a small project can grow into a large-scale, collective effort to make life a little better for people facing hard times.

(From left) Isabella Solano, Sierra Horton, Victoria Hildago, Kelsey Rose, Jordan Riter, Jenna Segmiller and Jordan Smith, all members of Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council Troop 440, collected hundreds of donations for the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte last weekend.

(From left) Isabella Solano, Sierra Horton, Victoria Hildago, Kelsey Rose, Jordan Riter, Jenna Segmiller and Jordan Smith, all members of Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council Troop 440, collected hundreds of donations for the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte last weekend.

It all started when the 11-year-old, rising sixth-graders were working on a service project in which they made and delivered blankets and center pieces to the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte, which provides a “home away from home” for families of children facing extended stays and treatments in local hospitals.

Guests also are provided with transportation, connections to ministry and spiritual support, nightly meals, sibling activities, family-friendly activities on the weekends and more, according to the organization’s website.

When the girls delivered the items to the Ronald McDonald House, they received a tour of the center. Immediately, they were inspired by what they saw and wanted to do more for the center and the families it serves.

“At first, I thought we were doing a really good thing we wanted to continue,” troop member Jordan Riter said. She added the Ronald McDonald House doesn’t “get that much money. They ask for $15 per night (from guests), but most people can’t afford that, so we decided to do something to help them.”

Fellow troop member Jenna Segmiller said the girls wanted to “make the place feel more like home” for families staying there through their donations and added they also wanted to help the center out with some of its needs.

“We thought it would be nice to donate some items to them since the people who stayed there couldn’t afford it,” she said.

As the girls considered ideas for their Bronze Award project – a Girl Scout project for fourth- and fifth-graders requiring at least 20 hours dedicated to “improving their Girl Scout or local community” – their thoughts kept returning to the Ronald McDonald House. They eventually settled on hosting a drive to collect a variety of donations for the center.

Jenna and Jordan – along with fellow troop members Kelsey Rose, Isabella Solano, Megan Murray, Sierra Horton, Victoria Hildago and Jordan Smith – held a donation drive at Walmart at the Arboretum shopping center on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 24 and 25.

For about eight hours over the course of two days, the girls sat outside the south Charlotte store, asking customers to donate to the Ronald McDonald House and providing them with a bag and a list of items the center needs.

Four categories included: bath and body products; food and drink; family and household items; and cleaning supplies.

The toughest part initially was asking people for donations, the girls said.

“At first we were kind of scared and were only asking a few people,” Jenna said. “By the second day, we were asking every person. No one who went in there didn’t have a bag.”

The best part, they said, was when the donations started coming in – especially from young children.

“There were a lot of little kids there,” Jordan said. “There were a lot of Brownies and Girl Scout girls interested in hearing what we were doing.”

The girls received what their troop leaders estimated to be thousands of dollars worth of donations from the drive and other individual efforts the girls made to collect items from neighbors, a swim team and more. They also received $386 worth of gift cards for the Ronald McDonald House.

The girls delivered the items to the Ronald McDonald House on Thursday, Aug. 29. They’re also planning a trip to Savannah, Ga., in October, where they’ll visit the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts, and officially receive their Bronze Award.

Reflecting on the project, Jordan said, “I get a really good feeling every time I think about it. This is what we can do. This is the power of 11-year-olds just doing what we love.”

Find more information about the Ronald McDonald House at the organization’s website, www.rmhofcharlotte.org.

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