How long does it take to get a $1,000 bottle-return bill?

Try 41 hours, over the course of three months. That’s how long it took Barlow Mountain Elementary School fifth grader Kyela McGuire to return 20,000 bottles and cans this winter.

Kyela, a member of Girl Scout Troop 50550, collected, sorted and returned the recyclables from November through January. She raised $1,004 and decided to donate the funds evenly between the Ridgefield Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels.

The collection started when McGuire’s troop was given the opportunity to work toward the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

“We reached out to Meals on Wheels to see how she could get involved with them, and...learned that it takes $500 a day to feed all of their clients,” said Kyela’s mother, Melanie. “This is where the idea sparked. Kyela wanted to also add the Ridgefield Food Pantry so that families and individuals not served by MOW would also benefit. She created her goal of $1,000 so that each would get $500.”

With the help of neighbors, local businesses and, of course, her family, Kyela started collecting bottles and cans.

“We posted a video of her explaining her project on the local Hello Ridgefield Facebook page, which created a lot of excitement, and she began coordinating with local community members and businesses who would leave their bottles at the of the driveway and she would pick them up on the way to school,” Melanie said. “Pamby’s offered to be a drop-off point as well, which was very helpful in collecting. …

“During the project, Kyela learned about community action, service and partnership. In addition, she has volunteered on other local projects and has surpassed her 75-hour service goal.”

Editor's note: Kyela will be presented a citation of congratulations from State Rep. John Frey in Town Hall today — Friday, Feb. 23 — at 2 p.m.