Plum Girl Scout's Gold Award project benefits animals

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Katie Chontos heard a lot about the Plum Food Pantry.

Chontos' friend, Patrick Caughey, volunteered at the pantry, and Chontos decided to join him one Tuesday about a year ago.

“I saw it was a good thing they did giving food to people,” said Chontos, 17, a senior at Plum High School. “It is so welcoming. It is a good place.”

When Chontos, a member of Girl Scout Troop 5074, earlier this year was thinking about a project to work on to earn a Gold Award — the highest achievement in Girl Scouting — the Plum Food Pantry immediately popped into her mind.

“I saw that most people (clients of the pantry) came in and had dogs and cats in their cars,” said Chontos, who aspires to be a veterinarian. “I wanted the project to be related to animals.”

Chontos decided to create a pet pantry for clients at the food pantry, which is located in Holiday Park United Methodist Church on Sandune Drive in Plum.

Chontos began the project in the spring by surveying pantry clients to find out things such as how many pets they have and what kind of food they give their pets.

The survey results revealed that clients have a difficult time finding money to buy food for their pets.

Next, Chontos, a member of the Air Force Junior ROTC at Plum High School, led the group in a pet-food collection.

Chontos said clients scooped up the cans and bags of food in just 17 minutes during a distribution day in late April.

“I put them on the extras table where clients can pick up toothbrushes, shampoo and out-of-the ordinary items,” Chontos said.

She said she plans to continue providing pet food to the pantry.

“I want to have a good flow,” Chontos said.

Chontos and other members of her Girl Scout troop routinely go on shopping trips to buy more pet food.

“She takes the donations and uses them to the best of her ability,” said Kay D'Incau, troop leader.

D'Incau said she admires Chontos' commitment to caring for animals. D'Incau said Chontos shadowed a veterinarian to find out about the job.

“She has been one of my huge animal advocates since day one,” D'Incau said. “I am proud of her.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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