Teens start food pantry for pets

Animal lovers Darcy McDowell and Hallory McBride seek support for their Girl Scout Silver Award project


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  • Darcy McDowell (left) and Hallory McBride show off the dog and cat food they’ve collected for their Girl Scout project, the Pet Food Pantry. With them is Clarice, Darcy’s one and a half year-old pet, who’s certainly pleased with the project. (Photo by Geri Corey)



By Geri Corey

— Goshenites Darcy McDowell and Hallory McBride, both 14 years old, love animals. So when it was time for these high school freshmen to think about earning the Girl Scout Silver Award, their thoughts turned to helping animals.

“Many people in our area have pets and when they can’t afford to feed them, they either give them up or just abandon them.”
Darcy McDowell

“We decided on creating a food pantry for dogs and cats,” said Darcy. “Many people in our area have pets and when they can’t afford to feed them, they either give them up or just abandon them.”

The two girls from Troop 161 are working together on the project. However, each one is responsible for a separate component: Hallory is in charge of getting information to the people and Darcy in acquiring supplies. Each has to accumulate 50 hours working on the project.

In testing the waters to see if there is a need, Hallory polled people who use the food pantry, located in the First Presbyterian Church of Goshen. The overwhelming response was “yes” a pet food pantry would be a welcomed addition.

She then met with John Strobl, with the Goshen Ecumenical Food Pantry, to seek approval for their project. He not only gave approval but also provided space in the food pantry for their supplies.

“They’re doing very well,” he said.

Strobl is the project advisor. “He answers all of our questions,” said Darcy.

Now she’s getting the word out through newspaper articles and online sources.

Darcy has been working just as hard acquiring food to stock the pantry. She not only has permission from the First Presbyterian and St. James Episcopal Churches to set up collection boxes, but she also had a food drive in her and Hallory’s neighborhoods. With 10 percent of the people in the neighborhood donating, Darcy called it a success.

Other efforts include returning bottles and cans to collect refunds, setting up a display on the Village Square to raise awareness and collect donations, soliciting local pet stores, and writing to large pet food companies, like IAMS and Pedigree, for donations.

“The Silver Award project has to be a community service, sustainable, provide leadership opportunities, and have a global aspect,” said Jeanette McDowell, who besides being Darcy’s mom is the troop leader. “This project meets all requirements,” she noted.

By sharing what they’ve done with other food pantries outside of Goshen through letter writing, the scouts will fulfill the global aspect.

To meet the sustainable requirement, Hallory is looking for volunteers to take over the project. She’s hoping to sign-up several volunteers to keep the pet food pantry going. If you are interested in helping, call 845-294-0565.

Canned or dry cat and dog food, shampoo, and flea and tick collars are appreciated donations and can still be put in the collection boxes at the churches.

“Animals are fun to play with and they’re good listeners,” said Darcy, with Hallory adding, “They’re interesting to watch, fun to take care of and easy to talk to. They’re great. That’s why we want to help them.”

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