By TRAVIS MORSE
MT. VERNON — —
This year's Scouting for Food effort in Mt. Vernon has collected more than 2,800 nonperishable food items for local pantries in need.
Frank Chrum, director of the Park Avenue Food Pantry, said the annual Boy Scout program makes a big difference, especially since it comes just before the holidays.
“We've got Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up and this is usually the hardest time as far as donations,” Chrum said. “So what the Boy Scouts are doing right now helps us extremely. It gets us through the holidays and feeds a lot of people.”
As part of the program, Boy Scout Troop 103 went door-to-door in Mt. Vernon Nov. 9, leaving at each house a special Scouting for Food bag.
Residents were asked to place nonperishable goods inside the bags to be picked up at a later date.
Then, on Saturday, Nov. 16, Troop 103 collected the donated food items and brought them to the St. Mary's Church gymnasium for distribution to six area pantries.
The Boy Scouts were assisted Saturday by two Cub Scout Packs, 101 and 103, and adult volunteers.
“It's really fun,” said Josh Parks, 12, a Boy Scout with Troop 103. “It's a really good thing to do because you're supporting all your food pantries. You're supporting the people in your community.”
Once the food was brought to the gym, it was sorted into different categories like corn, green beans, canned fruit, potatoes, pasta and noodles and more.
After that, food pantry representatives walked around the gym to collect various items.
In total, this year's Mt. Vernon program collected 2,864 food items. This is down from last year's total of roughly 3,200 items.
Still, the amount of food donated was impressive considering the current state of the economy, said Debbie Wright, Scouting for Food chairman. Bluford's collection this year brought in 755 items.
“One thing that I think is a huge benefit is the fact that this food all stays local,” Wright said. “A lot of things we donate to don't always stay local and they go to other places.”
Another important part of the program is how it teaches scouts the importance of giving to the less fortunate, Wright said.
“It's teaching them to be of service to other people and that's what Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts is all about — to serve others not just themselves,” Wright said.
Boy Scouts of America started the Scouting for Food program in 1985. The Mt. Vernon collection drive was launched more than 10 years ago.
The program is held annually at the local level across the U.S.
“It makes you happy to see all these people bringing in food … for the people that need it,” said William Milt, 16, a Boy Scout with Troop 103. “Because there's a lot of people out here that don't have food.”