Scouting for Food, the largest one-day food drive held by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), was first started in 1985 here in the St. Louis area. Since then, BSA’s Greater St. Louis Area Council reports that more than 43 million food items have been collected over the years to help feed the poor and hungry in the area.
The food collected on Saturday is expected to feed local people for four months, according to BSA.
“I didn’t know that some people can’t afford to buy food,” said Hazelwood scout Noah Atkinson. “I feel sorry for them, but it makes me feel good to know that we got to help them today.”
The cub scouts distributed collection bags door-to-door on Nov. 12, and returned to pick them up a week later on Saturday. Residents were asked to fill the bags with canned and non-perishable items, and Hazelwood residents responded.
Cub Scouts and their parents, led by Cubmaster Micheal Shea and den leaders Becky Lunte, Henry Coffman and Teressa Grindel, gathered at Garrett Elementary on Saturday morning to pick up the donations. The parking lot was filled with trucks pulling trailers, mini-vans and cars ready to be filled with bags of food.
Shea split the group into teams of parents and scouts. Routes for pickup were assigned, and the teams got to work.
“If you don’t see a bag on the door, you can knock and politely ask if they plan to donate,” Shea told the scouts. “Sometimes people want to donate but forget to put their bags out.”
Many Hazelwood residents had left donations out for the boys, and several others came out and handed the scouts their bags in person. The scouts were pleased to find that many families who donated overfilled the bags and some even donated additional bags of food to the cause.
After nearly two hours, the teams returned to Garrett’s parking lot carrying hundreds of bags of food.
“We did very well,” Shea said. “Out of the 900 houses we dropped bags at, we probably filled 200 boxes of food with the donations.”
Shea said that between all of the St. Louis area scout groups that collected on Saturday, the food donations should fill food pantries for as long as six months.
“The boys did wonderful this year,” he said. “We had about 18 boys and their parents helping out.”
The event took a little more than three hours total, he said.
The goal was to help BSA collect more than 2 million cans—and by day’s end, scouts from across the St. Louis area had collected about 2.4 million pounds of food in 50 tractor trailers rounded up at 46 area fire stations.
Hazelwood scouts from Pack 736 delivered their items to Hazelwood Fire Department’s Station #1, located at 6100 N. Lindbergh.
“We stuck around the firehouse afterward and helped them box up the food for the pantries,” Shea said.
The food will be donated to the St. Louis Area Foodbank and is expected to help support 500 area food pantries throughout the holiday season.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank reports that there are more than 85,000 people living in poverty in St. Louis County. And, according to the 2011 State of Homelessness in Missouri Report, the number of homeless people in Missouri increased by 12 percent between 2009 and 2010.