The two Girl Scouts who brought a train to a roaring stop in Wauwatosa last year have been honored with an award usually reserved for corporations.
Longfellow Middle School students Michela Miller and Madison Sveum of Troop 1185 coordinated efforts to bring the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train to the Village of Wauwatosa in December. The two Girl Scouts have since received the Tosa Care's annual community service award, which seeks to recognize outstanding service to the food pantry.
Since 1999, the Holiday Train has raised millions of dollars for food banks across North America as it makes stops across the continent, collecting monetary and food donations for local pantries along the way.
The Wauwatosa Girl Scouts partnered with volunteer organization Tosa Cares to address Wauwatosa's food needs. The organization collects nonperishable food items, personal care items, clothing and school supplies for distribution to families in need.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 people turned out for the train's stop in December, which also included live music and holiday festivities, Jim Plaisted, director of the Village Business Improvement District, has said.
The event collected about 13,000 pounds of food and $4,750 in cash (including a donation from Canadian Pacific) for Tosa Cares, which helped feed local families through the winter, said Linda Ertel of Tosa Cares.
'Our phones were lighting up with text messages from friends and neighbors who were at the event,' Miller said. 'Even today you'll see stuff on Instagram from that night.'
The food pantry is nearing the end of distributing the donations collected in December, which is why the Tosa Cares board chose Miller and Sveum for this year's community service award, Ertel said.
'We haven't had to go out and purchase things to help fill the shelves,' said Ertel.
Tosa Cares brought on a number of volunteers to help with the collection. The food pantry spent the weeks that followed unloading the trucks, organizing the food and shelving it, Ertel said.
'It was a very sustaining gift,' Ertel said.
The annual award honors a group in the community that has offered community service to Tosa Cares, Ertel said. Past recipients have included local schools and businesses, which is why honoring two individuals makes this year's award even more special, Ertel said.
'This year, the board was just so excited to award this to Michela and Madison,' Ertel said.
The Girl Scouts — who were inspired to bring the train to Wauwatosa after they saw it pass through Wauwatosa in 2014, but not stop — said the entire experience of bringing the train to town was rewarding, if exhausting at times. It required meetings at city hall, giving presentations to a room full of adults and countless hours of planning.
While they now have their afternoons and weekends back, the girls also have a greater sense of self-confidence, Sveum said. Each Girl Scout said giving presentations in front of her peers at school now seems like a breeze.
Sveum said she'd like to thank all those who made the train stop possible, especially other troop members.
Both Miller and Sveum qualified for the Silver Award — which is the second highest award a Girl Scout can earn — for their community service. Each said they will work toward the Girl Scout Gold Award when they enter high school.
For now, they said they are enjoying the success of the Canadian Pacific's Holiday Train stop in Wauwatosa and have passed over the reins to the Village BID to coordinate a future stop.