If you ask the students in Girl Scout Troop 2856, there was more than one Super Bowl last week.
As part of a project to earn their bronze medals, the eight girls in the troop pulled together a weeklong food drive and education campaign about hunger at Eldorado and Trailblazer elementary schools in Highlands Ranch. The drive was a part of a national initiative called the Super Bowl of Caring, a Girl Scout event that happens every year around the NFL Super Bowl since 1990.
“It’s been so wonderful to see what these girls have done and how much they care,” scout leader Rebecca Collins said.
Asha Kukuda, daughter of co-scout leader Kay Kukuda, said her favorite part of the food drive was seeing the nonperishables stacked up high.
“Going to the pantry and we saw all that food, I know we are doing the right thing,” the 10-year-old Eldorado student said.
The two schools had a competition to see who could collect the most cans and boxes of food. In total, the girls collected 4,390 food items, all of which are going to the local Fresh Harvest Food Bank, previously the Douglas County Panther Pantry. Eldorado won with 2,329 food items, while Trailblazer brought in 2,061. Eldorado averaged 3.96 food items per student with 588 students, while Trailblazer averaged 4.18 per student at 493 students.
Douglas County schools have provided the food bank with more than 15,000 food items over the past six months, which helps serve more than 500 people a month, according to program director Jen Zander.
The food bank uses around 5,700 food and toiletry items monthly, Zander said.
“Our food bank is a little different than others in that instead of handing a family a box of food, we ask the individual families of their food needs and pack each family accordingly, taking into account dietary restrictions and family size,” Zander said.
There has been a demographic shift in the last decade, with more “marginalized students” making their way into Douglas County schools, including minority students and hungry children, Eldorado principal Katy Kollacsh said.
“The image of Highlands Ranch is one of affluence, but that is changing,” Kollacsh said, citing an 8-10 percent slice of the student population at the school that receives free or reduced lunch. “This is happening in Highlands Ranch, and these girls are doing something about it.”
Asha Kukuda, along with fellow Eldorado students Ava Mount, Georgie Heokstra, Sydney Collins, Emily Sullivan, Elle Holler and Lauren Studdard organized the event, along with a Trailblazer student who wished not to be named.
The Super Target in Highlands Ranch donated a soup pot for a trophy and OfficeMax donated flyers, Collins said.
For more information, visit www.tacklehunger.org.