Ronald McDonald House Charities® in Omaha provides a temporary home away from home for families of ill or injured children receiving treatment at Omaha medical facilities. The temporary nature of the guests made consistent recycling difficult.
Enter Omaha Girl Scout Troop #41706.
Troop #41706 completed their Bronze Award project, the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve. The troop has 19 fifth graders from Loveland Elementary and Swanson Elementary in Westside Community school District. Each girl completed 20 hours of community work individually for the project. Together with their troop leaders, this is over 400 hours of service.
The troop partnered with Nebraska Medicine/UNMC to help make the Ronald McDonald House’s recycling program more robust. While the House had a recycling program, it had yet to be used to its full potential, as many of the things thrown away could have been recycled. Thanks to this project, more than 160 families who stay there each year, along with staff, will be able to significantly cut back on the amount of waste discarded at the House.
Lindsey Rai Reasner, Executive Director of RMHC in Omaha, was happy to see the improvements. “We’re thankful any time a community member provides a service to our families, but to have a group of young people so committed to helping families and our community at large inspires such a feeling of pride and excitement for our future.”
To ensure the program would be sustainable, the troop operated in separate committees for the various tasks involved. These committees decorated cheerful recycling bins, developed signage to be posted around the House, wrote a manual detailing the program, and created video and written communications explaining the project.
“It was fun to work together to help the kids at the Ronald McDonald House and the earth,” said Marigold Helvey, age 11, and 5th grader at Loveland Elementary School. That spirit of collaboration extended beyond the troop itself.
Troop co-leader Ann Anderson Berry says that this project “represents the best of Omaha: with efforts from our Girl Scout troop, the support of the Med Center’s LiveGreen initiative, and the support of Westside Community Schools, the Ronald McDonald House and the community will benefit from what we anticipate will be a large increase in recycling.” Prior to this project, the troop worked with LiveGreen & Nebraska Medicine to reduce the use of Styrofoam in the NICU.