Packed Pantry: South Carolina Cadet Collects Cereal for Children's Home
The children and teens served daily at the Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes in Milledgeville, Georgia, won’t have any concern about where breakfast is coming from for the next several months. Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Melinda Kaye Mercer of the South Carolina Wing’s Lexington Composite Squadron took care of that the day after Christmas.
Mercer takes Civil Air Patrol’s core value of volunteer service to heart. Her community service work this fall included providing food for several Blessing Boxes in different communities, serving underprivileged children who visit The Hotdog Club in Macon, Georgia, and donating nonperishable items to Free Fridges in Macon and Milledgeville.
She expanded her efforts after reading about the Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries and after her mother, Maj. Rachael Mercer, South Carolina Wing Group 3 commander, visited the nonprofit’s website and learned about college students volunteering to organize a pantry.
That’s when the cadet, who joined CAP just after turning 12 in March 2020, decided to pitch the idea of a cereal drive.
Over the last four months Mercer enlisted the help of fellow participants in Bleckley County, Georgia, 4-H by collecting donations during their fall semester kickoff tailgate party. She also asked 4-H members throughout the state to donate cereal Dec. 9-10 when they visited Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton for the Fall Forum recreational and educational weekend.
Mercer’s drive for donations included area Baptist churches as well as fellow Civil Air Patrol members and Facebook friends. Thanks to the reach of social media and the convenience of Amazon wish lists, friends from South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Colorado, and Florida were able to contribute.
Even so, she appeared on track to fall short of her goal — 500 boxes of cereal.
In November, at a meeting just before a mission trip, Maj. Mercer was explaining the project when a man in the audience sought more information. “Have you asked General Mills for a donation?” Tom Alexander of Eatonton asked, adding that he had contacts at the company.
Alexander’s involvement led to the donation of more than 300 boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. He picked up the boxes at General Mills’ Covington, Georgia, plant and delivered them to the cadet.
On Dec. 26, Mercer’s campaign concluded in Palmetto with the donation of 820 full-sized boxes of cereal to Rod Hampton, Georgia Baptist Children’s and Family Homes Ministries communication director. The cereal, packed neatly, filled a 15-passenger van.
This look at Chief Cadet Master Sgt. Melinda Kaye Mercer’s campaign collecting 820 boxes of cereal for a children’s home is 18th in a regular series of articles showcasing how CAP and its members make an impact in their communities and throughout the nation.