Meghan Nevolo remembers volunteering for IHN at her church, St. Philomena’s, from the time she was 6 or 7 years old. She’d play with the kids while her mother helped fix dinner. As she got older, she started to think about what it must be like to be a child who was homeless, living at a church or temple and moving every week or two. She pictured the children getting attached to the toys or games there only to be uprooted and have to get used to whatever the next congregation had.
By the time Meghan was getting ready to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, an idea had already taken shape in her mind: create a “comfort box” containing similar games and toys for each congregation that hosts IHN families. This way, when the children moved to a new house of worship, they would know what to expect, at least when it came to playtime. And, ultimately, they’d feel more at home.
To put her plan together, Meghan reflected on the toys and games she liked as a child, priced out the items and decided to assemble 10 boxes, allotting $50 per box to cover the cost of 6 or 7 items. Next, she appealed to the Kiwanis Club for a donation and also ran an ad in her local paper. Guess what? It worked. She received monetary and toy donations. And one special family, the Perlsteins, was so taken with her idea that they helped spread the word, as well. This resulted in Meghan being able to raise $1,070 and assemble 25 comfort boxes, each containing more than 25 items such as board games, puzzles, stuffed animals, jump ropes, basketballs and more.
According to the Girl Scouts, the Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take Action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities and beyond. Meghan has certainly fulfilled these requirements with her comfort boxes. In fact, a comment that she’s heard repeatedly from the congregations is “Why wasn’t this done earlier?” We’re hoping volunteers at other organizations will replicate her idea. In the end, it’s all about helping other kids weather their difficult circumstances more easily.