How to feed the hungry? Collect bottles and cans!

To help feed the hungry, Ridgefield Girl Scout Kyela McGuire collected some 20,000 bottles and cans, cashed in the 5-cent returns, and donated $1,004 to be split between Meals on Wheels and the food pantry. Her efforts earned her a General Assembly Citation from the Connecticut House of Representatives, arranged by Ridgefield’s 111th District state Rep. John Frey, who presented it to her in a Feb. 23 ceremony at town hall.

Kyela’s also going for a Presidential Volunteer Service Award from the White House. She’s seeking the gold level, which requires 75 hours of volunteer service within a 12-month period.

The daughter of Melanie and Darren McGuire and a fifth grader at Barlow Mountain School, Kyela raised the $1,004 over three months of bottle and can collecting.

“My goal was $1,000,” Kyela said. “We found out it cost $500 to feed all the individuals in Meals on Wheels, and we wanted to do two charities.”

Meals on Wheels actually got an extra $85 that was donated as part of her mother’s birthday celebration — so donations to both charities totaled $1,089.

Kyela got help with the project from some of her friends in Girl Scout Troop 50550. And many friends, neighbors and local businesses pitched in, saving bottles and cans and calling Kyela to pick bags of them up as donations rather than cashing in the returns themselves.

“She’d go and pick it up at the end of the driveway,” her mother said.

Kyela also volunteers on missions undertaken by her church, plays the cello, and is on a basketball team.