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Sikeston Cub, Boy Scouts are preparing for effort to gather food to feed Southeast Missouri's hungry

Thursday, October 30, 2008

SIKESTON -- When local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are out in Sikeston neighborhoods in November, they not only will participate in the nation's largest food drive, they'll also learn some good life lessons while helping others.

The 24th annual Scouting for Food is coming up in November, and organizers hope this year's campaign is just as successful as those in the past.

In Cub Scouting, "Seeds of Kindness" is the theme for November. "And the food drive really goes with that, because we're actually teaching the boys about good deeds and doing things for the community," said Lee Walters, Cub master for Pack 41 in Sikeston. "It teaches youth the value of helping others. To help other people, and do a good deed daily are parts of both the Cub Scout and Boy Scout oath."

Beginning Nov. 8, Scouts will deliver plastic bags which explain the program. Then, on Nov. 22, the Scouts will return to the neighborhoods to pic up donations.

"We try to hang them on the handles to the doors, or tie them to the storm door so they don't blow away," said Walters. He asked those who give to have bags outside by 9 a.m. Nov. 22.

Non-perishable food items that are not in glass containers are requested. "We're looking for items such as canned meat, canned vegetables and boxed foods," said Walters.

Although the drive is large in scale, it goes to help local people, with all the food collected given to the Southeast Missouri Food Bank, said Walters.

"The food that's collected is used right in the town where we received it," noted Karen Green, executive director for the Southeast Missouri Food Bank. "When you're trying to help you're neighbor, you want to help your next-door neighbor."

She said that gives the community a huge impact -- in addition to the fact that so many items are collected each year.

Walters couldn't recall how much was collected last year, but did remember spending about six hours at the Food Bank, unloading and stacking boxes filled with donations. According to Walters, the food collected raises 15 percent of the area food pantries' yearly food supply and feeds the community for three months.

"And not only was it terrific because of the amount of food collected, but the fact that the Boy Scouts were involved," said Green. "That says something important about the group's community involvement -- they are a real asset to the community."

But for the Scouts, it's exciting. "The kids look forward to it every year," said Walters. "There are a lot of boys with all that energy, and they just love to run."

Nine-year-old Ethan Bartlett agreed, saying he's looked forward to the drive for awhile.

"It's just once a year," he said. "And it makes me feel good to help others."

Ross Walters, 9, said he also likes to help people. His favorite part of the drive is "just getting out and doing it," he said.

While youngsters are out in the neighborhoods, Walters said motorists should be aware and drive safe and slow.

Walters said that, with the current economic situation, people may not be able to give as much. But, he also pointed out there is more need, so asked people to just give whatever possible.

"If it's just a can or two that you can give, that would be great," he said. "That's better than not leaving anything."

He also suggested people clean out their pantries and donate unexpired items they aren't using.

"We always have a good turnout and I think the citizens of Sikeston always do us good as far as donating," said Walters.