Teen will hold food drive Saturday
Sophie Perrotti began volunteering at the Jamestown Community Farm when she was in the sixth grade. Over the years, Sophie has done everything from running the farm stand to picking and packaging vegetables.
“I’ve been helping out since the sixth grade,” Perrotti said, who is now a senior at the Prout School in Wakefield. “In the summers I got more actively involved in it. It’s a very big part of my life. I owe a lot to them.”
According to Sophie, 17, the main focus of the farm is to harvest produce for food banks and soup kitchens. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she would join other volunteers in picking, boxing and weighing the vegetables. She would then help to send them off with the people who came to pick up the goods for distribution. Saturdays were dedicated to running the farm stand.
“It’s important because it’s a community thing,” she said. “It’s everybody getting together to help out their neighbors. Whether we know it or not, there are people in our town who need help. This is helping them. I think that’s important.”
Sophie has applied to several colleges for next year. She plans to pursue a career as a high school English teacher. Hoping for financial aid by way of a scholarship, she has became aware of an organization called DoSomething.org that encourages teens to become involved in projects that serve the public good.
Among the programs that Do Something offers is Pantry Prep. The program encourages young people to organize a food drive to benefit a local food pantry. Organizers are entered into a drawing for a $5,000 scholarship. So far the program has resulted in the collection of more than 49,000 pounds of food.
“I thought it would be benefi- cial for me for college,” Sophie said. “I’d never thought about running a food drive before, but since I’d been active at the community farm, I thought this would be a good opportunity.”
Sophie’s food drive will take place at the farm on Saturday, Dec. 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Do Something suggests items such as meals in a can (like SpaghettiOs), canned tuna, peanut butter, granola bars, canned fruits and vegetables, canned soup, shelf-stable milk, cereal, rice and pasta. All items that are donated will be packaged and delivered to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank in Providence.
Other programs sponsored by DoSomething.org include Teens for Jeans, where jeans are collected for homeless teenagers in shelters; Grandparents Gone Wired, which helps senior citizens to get online; and 50 Cans, a program that encourages young people to collect and recycle at least 50 cans.
According to Bob Sutton, Jamestown Community Farm manager, Sophie and her family have been excellent volunteers who have come to the farm on a regular basis. He said that when the farm stand first started, it was on a cart by the side of the road.
“Sophie really took to that and liked it,” Sutton said. “She’s been around every summer. Now she runs our entire farm stand on Saturdays and Wednesdays. She takes care of all of that. She’s just a very nice girl. People that come in always mention her. They always ask, ‘Who’s that nice girl who works there?’ She’s just been an excellent volunteer.”
Sutton said he welcomed the opportunity for the farm to host Sophie’s food drive. She called him a couple of weeks ago and asked if the farm could be the site of her project.
“I said absolutely. It’s certainly consistent with our mission,” he said. “It’s something we’re glad to participate in.”
Sutton said that he is simply providing the location for the food drive, and that all the work is being done by Sophie. She will be joined by a number of her classmates who will help her out on Saturday.
According to Deb Foppert, president of the board at the community farm, Sophie is a “rare individual for her age.” Foppert said she is mature beyond her years, and works hard at everything that she does. “She’s dependable. She’s an incredible 17-year-old as far as commitment to her causes. She’s involved in a lot of other things besides the farm. She’s focused on what it is she’s doing. She’s there. She’s ready. She knows what she has to do.”
Foppert said the food drive that Sophie is organizing is a good example of the kinds of things that teens in Jamestown can do.
As for Sophie, she simply enjoys giving back. “We just had Hurricane Sandy,” she said. “I know that it affected a lot of people in Rhode Island, but everywhere else, too. It’s kind of a wake-up call that communities need help. In our own community we don’t see it as much, but I think that organizing food drives, donating and generally helping out are beneficial.”