The Star-Herald

Presque Isle Scouts collect food, help fulfill need for local pantry

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Members of Boy Scout Troop 171 and Cub Scout Pack 171, both based in Presque Isle, learned a valuable lesson in community service on Saturday, Nov. 3, when they helped supply a local food pantry with much needed donations.

Around a dozen Scouts and their families spent a good portion of the afternoon unloading thousands of paper bags that contained donated food items such as canned fruits, vegetables, meat and soups, cereal, pasta, rice, spaghetti sauce and diced tomatoes, and helping volunteers from the Grace Interfaith Food Table sort through and shelve the food.

During the previous weekend the boys had travelled throughout Presque Isle and surrounding communities, leaving large paper bags and flyers on peoples’ doorsteps. The hope was that many people would stock the bags with canned and nonperishable food items and then leave the bags on their doorsteps for the Scouts to pick up as part of the national Scouting For Food project.

Since 1985, Scouting For Food has been one of the many service projects throughout the year that encourages Scouts to live up to their motto of “doing a good turn daily,” according to Troop 171 Scoutmaster Tom Peary.

“We want to teach the boys to be good citizens and to help their community,” Peary said. “They collect as many bags of food as they can because we know how great the need is during the holiday season.”

The Scouts relished the opportunity to help Charlene Buzza, director of volunteer services at GIFT, organize and label cardboard boxes so that she and volunteers would know exactly how much of each food product had been donated. Two of the newest Boy Scout members — Carter Daggett, 12, and Evan McEachern, 10 — arrived at the pantry early in the afternoon to unload dozens of food bags they had collected from their designated neighborhoods.

Both boys noted that they enjoyed the chance to help people in the community who benefit from the services GIFT provides.

“It’s important that we help people who might not be able to buy food,” McEachern said.

Daggett agreed. “Part of our Boy Scout creed is “to help other people at all times,’” he said.

GIFT is a nonprofit organization located on 24 Industrial Street in Presque Isle. Buzza estimates that the pantry serves around 3,900 to 4,000 individuals and families per year and said that the need for food increases during the winter months when many families struggle with the high prices of both heating fuel and food, sometimes having to choose between one or the other.

Thanks to community donations from the Scouting For Food project, Buzza noted, GIFT now has food that will last at least two months or more. She expressed gratitude to the Scouts and their families for taking time out of their weekend to provide good food for folks who need it most and help with the lengthy process of organizing and shelving the items.

“Without them I would’ve spent about a week getting the food on the shelves,” Buzza said. “I give all the credit to the kids and their parents and the community because without the community we would not be able to function.”

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