Johnston Scouts do their best to help those in need

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Neither rain, nor driving winds, nor giant puddles could keep the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of Pack and Troop 20 from doing their biggest good deed of the year.

For the past 31 years, Johnston’s Scouts have been prepared to help those in need during the holidays by participating in the Scouting for Food drive to benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and other food pantries.

On Sunday, October 28, following a one-day delay from a nor’easter, the scouts left informational door hangers on residences as they canvassed the town. The yellow door hangers gave instructions that asked residents to contribute healthy canned and boxed foods to the food drive. Participants were instructed to leave those goods in a box or bag outside of their door the morning of the November 3 for the Scouts to pick up.

Despite last Saturday’s horrible weather conditions, Johnston residents delivered. Johnston’s scouts dodged raindrops as they went from door to door to collect the goods while being buffered by winds.

The donations were then brought to the Atwood Avenue fire station, where the scouts emptied the bags, sorted the contents, and then packed them neatly in boxes for shipping. When finished, the scouts collected approximately 200 boxes worth of food this year, a total of three pallets worth. With the assistance of Sergeant First Class Thomas Kay and Specialists Leona Eastman and Edward Smith of the Rhode Island National Guard, the scouts formed a conveyer line to get the boxes loaded, and their haul nearly filled a National Guard truck.

Since the food drive’s inception in 1987, Rhode Island scouts have collected nearly 9.5 million pounds of food in total.

According to Hugh Minor, Director of Communications at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, totals from this year’s drive were still being added up as they are waiting for numbers from some of their agencies that receive food directly.

“We did, however, receive an additional donation from Ocean State Job Lot of 16,000 pounds of food, so that will help bring the total up,” he said. “We’re hoping that folks will continue to donate food or funds to help us keep the warehouse full throughout the long winter months.”

However, the Narragansett Council of Boy Scouts later reported that a total of 270,827 pounds for the council that includes Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts had been collected.

While the drive helps those in need, Scouts also benefit as the time spent volunteering may be used towards rank advancement requirements. This year’s drive celebrated a milestone in the history of the event, as Cub Scouts now allow young girls to join the program. For the first time they were allowed to officially participate in the drive. 

Scouting for Food is supported by the Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, WPRI-12 News, Fox Providence, the Rhode Island National Guard, The Valley Breeze, Job Lot, The Providence CW and my RI TV.

Those not able to participate in the Scouting for Food drive but would like to give may visit a local food pantry or the RI Community Food Bank located at 200 Niantic Ave., Providence. Food can also be dropped off at one of two Scout Shops located at the West Bay Scout Shop at 1276 Bald Hill Road in Warwick and the East Bay Scout Shop at 79 Swansea Mall Drive in Swansea, Mass. To learn more about Scouting visit www.beascout.org.

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