Scouts help fill food shortage
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on February 12, 2012 1:50 AM
Gavin Hughes, 11, left, and Hunter Grantham, 12, right, of Boy Scout Troop 59, load bags of food into a truck Saturday at Berkeley Mall.
Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from dozens of troops and packs across Wayne County raised enough food in their Saturday-to-Saturday food drive to keep the Salvation Army shelves stocked for months, officials with the organization said.
Although much of the haul, which had been collected by Scouts going door-to-door in neighborhoods all across the county leaving bags for residents to fill, wasn't brought to the chief collecting point at Berkeley Mall, there was still enough on hand for Lt. Kenny Iglehart of the Salvation Army to declare the drive a success.
"The need for us is year round," he said, as Scouts unloaded an SUV filled with bags of items.
Many people remember to give during the holidays, Iglehart pointed out, but supplies go fast so there is normally a shortage this time of year. The annual Postal Service drive in the spring helps carry the Salvation Army through until the late fall, he noted, when supplies again dwindle.
"Just looking at what we've got here," he said at the mall site about noon, "this should help get us through until the summer drive."
"It went real well," said Scoutmaster James Blackman of Troop 59 in the Grantham community, whose troop is sponsored by the Grantham Volunteer Fire Department. "The Cub Scouts put out the bags last week and the Boy Scouts picked them up this morning. We had a great response. I bet every other house we passed had put a bag out."
Blackman said his boys took the campaign seriously.
"These boys are learning at a young age to give back to their community," he said.
The campaign is one taken on by Scout councils across the country, but this is the first such drive in Wayne County. Similar drives were held in the Tuscarora Council's other three counties: Duplin, Johnston and Sampson. Council Executive Tim Harper said he hopes the food drive will become an annual undertaking. The goal this year was 25 tons. Harper said much of the food collected was at churches sponsoring Scout units as many joined with their troops and packs to help in collecting non-perishable items, he said.
Harper said it would take time to determine exactly how much food was collected, but that even if the goal wasn't met, it showed what Wayne County's Scouts could do when challenged.
"For our first time, we've done very well," he said.
"You will help a lot of people," Lt. Iglehart chimed in.
Rick Tharrington Sr., a member of the Scouting committee that oversees Troop 14 and Pack 14, which are sponsored by Saulston Methodist Church, said the boys in those units collected more than 800 pounds of food.
"I think it great," he said, "we were really pleased with the way people responded."
He said the troop expected to collect more food today, which is Scout Sunday at the church.
Chip Felver, scoutmaster of Troop 8, which is sponsored by New Hope United Methodist Church, said his boys collected more than 650 items for the drive.
"I think it went pretty well," he said.
Joe Morgan is scoutmaster of Troop 92, which is sponsored by Brogden United Methodist Church. He said his Scouts, along with the boys in Cub Scout Pack 92, collected 870 cans of food. They delivered their items to the Helping Hands mission in Mount Olive.
"Their shelves were pretty bare," he said.
Mr. and Mrs. John Moody stopped at the site on Berkeley Boulevard to drop off several bags of groceries. They weren't connected to any Scout unit but simply wanted to help needy, they said.
"If I help someone else, it helps me," Moody said.