RIVERSIDE COUNTY – Some of Riverside County’s youngest residents are pitching in to help send food and cheer to their neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Daisy Girl Scout Troop 354 from Wildomar has been filling pantry boxes with food and colorful hand-drawn cards to brighten the days of older adults in self-isolation. The girls, who are in kindergarten and first grade, also sponsored boxed oranges for shut-in older adults with funds raised from their annual cookie sales.
“Many of our Scouts have grandparents who they miss and cannot visit right now,” Crystal Blacketer, the troop’s leader and Scout mother, said. “These activities keep the girls connected to our seniors and they support our community partners.”
The initiative, Courtesy Pantry, is being spearheaded by the Riverside County Office on Aging in partnership with the Department of Public Social Services, Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley and The Salvation Army.
Tammy Marine, director of Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley, said the Courtesy Pantry is providing part-time work to 18 displaced workers, while contributing to the health of local businesses including farms, artisans, restaurants and nonprofits. Three thousand pantry boxes with fresh and nonperishable food have been provided to seniors by Courtesy Pantry so far.
“This valuable program has leveraged county dollars and already attracted an additional $35,000 in donations from local businesses, health organizations and nonprofits,” Marine said.
V. Manuel Perez, Riverside County board chair and 4th District supervisor, called Courtesy Pantry a lifeline for vulnerable older adults and a testament to the innovation and collaboration that exists between local government and community-based stakeholders.
“We need folks to be on the lookout for seniors lacking support right now,” Perez said. “This requires volunteers to help out, and businesses to partner with us to meet these demands.”
Supervisor Chuck Washington, who represents Riverside County’s 3rd District, where many of the boxes have been delivered, praised the “countless examples of determination and perseverance of the American people.”
“Many thanks to the nonprofit organizations, businesses and government agencies working together to serve vulnerable older adults,” Washington said.
Submitted by Riverside County.