It was a rewarding lesson in public service for about a dozen Boy Scouts as they sorted through hundreds of bags of food they had just collected from neighborhoods on the Key Peninsula.
In the dark basement of a brick building just south of the Home Bridge, the boys marveled at the mounds of food in front of them.
“Was this all us?” Carson Helland, 11, asked no one in particular.
With the holiday season fast approaching, Boy Scout Troop 220 on the Key Peninsula went door to door Saturday collecting donations of food and delivering it to the Key Peninsula Community Services Food Bank in Lakebay.
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The Scouts were driven around neighborhoods by parents to collect the bags they left on door knobs last Sunday with a note asking for donations. The food the Scouts collect will help replenish the shelves of the food bank.
“This time of year it really stocks our shelves,” said Penny Gazabat, executive director of the food bank. “Most of our stock comes from programs like this.”
According to Gazabat, the demand for food goes up in the winter as the cost of heating homes goes up and families have less to spend on what they eat.
“Many people come to us most in the winter than the summer,” she said.
The Lakebay food bank collects roughly $570,000 worth of food and fills more than 9,000 requests a year, Gazabat said. About 300 unique families visit the food bank each month.
This food drive is in response to part of the Scouts’ creed to help others at all times — and, in the process, learn the value of public service, said Scoutmaster Steve Goins.
“I expect to pick up the food and deliver it to the food bank and see the smiles on people’s faces,” said 12-year-old Daniel Shurr.
As car assignments were handed out at the parking lot of the Food Market in Lake Kathryn Village in Wauna, Scouts ran to their drivers, eager to get going.
“It’s pretty cold,” Max Goins said before running out to his ride.
They knew they had a lot of work to do. But with the sun shining brightly above them, drivers and their passengers filed out of the parking lot.
According to Shirley Crane, the food drive has been around for years. Her son John, who earned his Eagle badge in October, has been a Scout for the better part of the last decade. Crane said she has been following him around Scouting programs since he was in the second grade.
“There is definitely a need,” Crane said. “When we go out (to the food bank), we can see how low they are on food.”
She said “the Scouts are doing this themselves,” hoping to bring in the food before the holidays hit. The troop leaders and parents come along for the ride to help organize and lend support.
“This is very time-consuming work, but very rewarding,” Crane said.
“It is a way to give back to the community,” senior troop leader A.J. Hollaway said. “Getting food to the people who need it. It’s really fun.”