BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Troutman Town Council unanimously approved a community pet pantry project presented by Juliette Girl Scout Junior Layla Sudol to assist community members struggling to afford pet food in these difficult economic times.
The Troutman Pet Pantry is now open and ready for the community, located in the Troutman Town Hall parking lot next to the Rocky Mount Church Blessing Box.
Inspired to help furry community members by the Blessing Box, Sudol designed and built a pet pantry as part of her Bronze Award project. She has committed to overseeing and stocking the pantry for the next five years.
The box is painted green and brown and is similar in size to the Blessing Box but with deeper shelving to accommodate pet food bags and cans. Sudol also distinguished the box by adding paw prints on the pet pantry plexiglass door.
Paul Shore assisted Layla with the dangerous parts of construction, such as saw use.
To complete the project, Sudol presented her design plan to stores, schools, clubs, and community members to ask for building material and food and supply contributions to the pet pantry, which operates like the Blessing Box.
People in need can take items and those who can will donate items to help keep community pets well fed, healthy, and safe.
Sudol hopes to collect non-refrigerated wet and dry dog and cat food, treats, chew and play toys, cat litter, leashes, collars, pee pads, fish flakes, aquatic, reptile, or small animal care items, and other pet needs and equipment.
If necessary, she will also hold fundraisers to purchase food.
If community members have larger items, such as extra large food bags, aquariums, portable carriers, pet steps, they can leave them at Town Hall for pickup by Sudol, who will publicize the items’ availability on the pantry Facebook page.
Lowe’s Home Improvement store provided the pantry building materials and paint for the project, and Lowe’s Manager Jake Rollings and Assistant Manager Mike Chapin were present to cheer Layla at the ceremony.
Rollings noted the company’s commitment to support Boy and Girl Scouts with materials and assistance as well as fundraiser sales.
The box also will soon have a QR code placed on it that connects to the Troutman Pet Pantry Facebook page, through which community members can relay information or get donation information.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Sudol’s mother, Lindsay Shore, presented Layla with her Bronze Award certificate. She also promoted Layla to Girl Scout Cadette and presented her with the Cadette silver key.
Traditionally, girls are given a silver key on a chain or necklace as part of the bridging ceremony from junior to cadette level. The key symbolizes that the girls are seeking to unlock the door to Cadette Girl Scouting and experience all that lies behind it, including potentially earning the Silver Award.
“The key represents your challenge to look wider still in all you do while always remembering to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, responsible for what you say and do, respectful of yourself and others, respectful of authority, wise in your use of resources, and always trying to make the world a better place while being a sister to every Girl Scout. You hold the key to your future,” said Shore.
Shore also presented Layla with a new khaki vest to fill with badges over the next two years. Layla is already thinking about reaching her silver level and gold level awards, the latter of which is equivalent to the Boy Scouts Eagle Scout level.
Layla thanked Town Hall staff and the Town Council, Lowe’s Home Improvement, The Sign Shop, and Dragonfly Emporium for the donations and assistance for the project.
Before the ribbon cutting, Layla said, “This was a very challenging and hard project to build, but I did learn a lot from it. Even though I’m only 11 years old, a small change can make a big difference.”
After the ceremony, other Girl Scouts who came out to support Layla helped her to load up the pantry with donated goods.
Sudol is a rising sixth-grader at the Iredell Charter Academy of Arts and Sciences in Troutman. In addition to her scouting activities, she plays flag football. She plans to go into business studies in college and especially looks forward to completing those badges relating to her career goals.