The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 11, 2013

Scouting for Food: Neighbors helping neighbors

The Daily Southerner

ROCKY MOUNT — Local Boy Scout troops “Scouted for Food” Saturday morning. Among them, seven boys from Troop 96, sponsored by St. James United Methodist Church, made their rounds in Tarboro neighborhoods collecting food items for the less fortunate.

“It feels good to help people,” said Robbie Deens, a troop member and 11th grader at SouthWest Edgecombe High School. “Do a good turn daily,” he said, quoting a Scout motto, meaning find a way to help someone every day.

The troop collected 720 food items and donated the items to the Tarboro Community Outreach Center’s food pantry.

“People here are really nice and supportive,” Deens said.

“It will be very much appreciated,” said Joe Costanza, a resident at the outreach center. “I see this kind of need every day. On an average day, we probably have five to 10 people come by [the food pantry].”

Deens said he also appreciates the donations from the community.

“They’ve given us the food to support the needy,” he said. This is Deens’ sixth year of involvement with the Scouting for Food project. The service-oriented Scout said he plans to give back to his high school for his upcoming Eagle Scout project.

Each year, the Boy Scouts collect about 20,000 pounds of food for the Tar River District in the “Scouting for Food” venture, said Scout leader Dave Sharpe.

“It’s also a good chance to get the parents involved,” Sharpe said. Deens’ grandmother, Elaine Blevins, showed her support for the project.

“I think it’s great that the youth are able to help and that the community comes together by contributing,” she said. “The times are really tough, and the government cannot do everything, and shouldn’t. It has to be neighbors helping neighbors. Being able to contribute to something like this means you’re able to help neighbors you don’t even know. This is a way of helping that faceless neighbor.”

To Blevins, being involved in Scouting helps teach children important life lessons such as the one they learned in the Scouting for Food project.

“That’s such an important thing to teach them – to help one another,” Blevins said. “I think it [Scouting] is a very important aspect of their life – church and Scouting and family.”

Last weekend, Cub Pack and Boy Scout Troop 49, sponsored by Howard Memorial Presbyterian Church, collected 450 bags — over 4,500 pounds of food, at Tarboro’s Food Lion stores.

“Scouting for Food is one of our service projects that we do,” said Andrea Sessoms, Cub Pack leader. “I think it helps the kids to see that you do live through your actions…The kids actually really have fun doing it.”

Not only does the project teach the Scouts the importance of service to others, but it also boosts their self-confidence by giving them the opportunity to ask community members they’ve never met for donations, Sessoms said.

Also collecting food on Saturday was Troop 816, sponsored by First Freewill Baptist Church. Food gathered by members of that troop went to the church food pantry to help the needy.