Scouts to collect items for area food pantries
SIKESTON - Eight-year-old Lofton Hayes knows all about Scouting for Food.
Last year, the New Madrid Cub Scout ran from neighbor to neighbor's house, gathering up the white plastic bags filled with canned goods. Sometimes it took an extra bit of "oomph" to lift the bags, filled with canned goods, into the vehicle. "They put in a million cans of green beans," said Lofton. "My feet got tired."
The bags weighed "a ton," agreed fellow Scout Nathan Bock.
But the young Scouts said the time spent was worth it. "It gives you good exercise," explained Lofton, about the annual food drive, scheduled again this year for Saturday. "And it helps somebody," added Reese Porter, a third member of the local Den.
Those are the memories even older Scouts have about the project designed to fill local food pantries to help the needy. Nick Roberts, district executive for the Cherokee District, remembers participating in the project, which has been a project in the Boy Scout Council for 16 years now.
"Watching them does bring back memories, but more importantly I hope they realize they are helping the needy in our communities," said Roberts.
Last Saturday some 1,100 youngsters in 30 Cub Scout and Boy Scout Troops in the Cherokee District, which covers all or parts of Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid, Stoddard, Dunklin and Pemiscot counties, passed out 26,000 of the white and black bags for the project. In Sikeston alone, Scouts distributed 7,000 bags.
Their goal this Saturday is to collect 24,000 cans of food in the district, surpassing last year's 21,799 cans. Roberts recommends those who fill their Scouting for Food bag include non-perishable items such as canned goods, dried food, noodles or "anything that won't spoil."
The bags should then be left on the front steps or where they can be easily seen by the Scouts as they retrace their steps from last Saturday, collecting the donations.
In each community where food is collected by the youngsters, the items will remain as part of local effort to feed the hungry. For example, in Sikeston the collected items will be given to the Bootheel Food Bank, while Charleston Scouts will take their canned goods and other items to the Charleston Food Pantry for distribution later.
The donations are coming just in time said Sallyanne Naile who serves as Charleston's Cub Scout master for Pack 33, which includes 67 youngsters in eight Dens. She explained the Charleston Ministerial Alliance established the food pantry about a year ago and depends on the work of the Scouts to fill the shelves before the holidays.
For the Scouts, ranging from first through fifth grades, the Saturday morning collection is fun. "Our kids have a ball!" said Naile with a laugh. "They stack it, they count it and line it all up on the shelves."
But there is also a lesson Naile and the other leaders hope the young people gain from their two Saturdays of work. "This is something they can do to give back to the community and I think they will be overwhelmed by the community's generosity," said Naile.
"It is a good experience for them," agreed Roberts, who will work with the Sikeston Scouts. "And especially with the holiday season coming close, it is a time to help our neighbors and do what we can to help those in need."
Roberts added that Sikeston residents who did not received a Scouting For Food bag can bring their donations to the First Assembly of God gymnasium until 3 p.m. Saturday or drop donations off at the Bootheel Food Bank during the week.