Boy Scouts Nationwide Kick Off Canned Food Drive
Undated (AP) _ Thousands of scouting groups launched a holiday food drive this weekend, fanning out in neighborhoods around the nation to distribute plastic bags for their neighbors to fill with canned food for the poor and homeless.
″It’s sad, so we’re going to help these people out,″ Juancinto Swope, 9, of Louisville, Ky. ″We’re going to get a lot of food for the poor.″
This year’s ″Scouting For Food″ drive, which is being conducted in all 50 states by Scouts and their leaders, will supply canned goods to food banks, church group shelters, soup kitchens and county welfare agencies.
With about 4.2 million Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Explorer Scouts in the United States, scouting groups hold enormous potential to mobilize for civic causes, said Barclay Bollas, a spokesman for Boy Scouts of America.
″We have seen that there are now supposedly 20 million Americans and about 7 million children that go hungry every month,″ Bollas said. ″This was not the case half a generation ago and we felt it was something we could make an impact on.″
In Kentucky alone, 18,000 Scouts distributed about 280,000 food bags Saturday, according to Tony Morton, Scout field director for the state.
Up to 250,000 Scouts and their troop leaders took part in the drive in Southern California, hoping to collect 1 million pounds of food.
″I’m going to get 80 pounds of them at least,″ said Cub Scout Bryan Davis, 9, of Inglewood, Calif., hefting an armload of plastic bags.
Davis and 250 representatives of Scout troops attended a pep rally Saturday at the Los Angeles Area Council headquarters to kick off the campaign.
Steve Maternick, program director of the Scout council for Morris and Sussex counties in New Jersey, said parents and chaperones in his area helped about 9,000 Scouts drop off bags Saturday morning.
″Next Saturday they will retrace their route and hopefully pick up the bags filled with food.″
″Everyone in Pack 31 was doing this for the hungry,″ said 10-year-old James Becker, whose father drove him and a friend around Denville, N.J., to hand out about 40 red-and-white collection bags.
Robert A. Williams, a spokesman for the Greater New York Councils of the Boy Scouts, said many of the 86,000 Scouts in the city - the largest group in the nation - were going door to door collecting food.
″The youngsters from just about any community in this city see the homeless lying on the streets,″ he said.
″Basically, we’re asking people to open their hearts by opening their pantries,″ he added.
Goods collected in New York will be given to organizations with experience in distributing food, such as the Salvation Army and church and community groups.
Saul Cohen, a 12-year-old Cub Scout from New York City, said he wanted to ″help the homeless like other Scouts across America are doing.″
″It makes me feel sad″ to see the homeless on the city’s streets and subways, he said. But, it ″feels good to be helping other people.″
About 50 Boy and Cub Scouts from the Trappe-Collegeville, Pa., area went door-to-door asking people to have donations ready next Saturday, said Troop 113 Scoutmaster James Shallcross.
Travis Rybicki, 13, who has been in scouting for six years, said he was suprised that some people were so enthusiastic.