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Doing a good deed to help needy families
Boy Scout John Osborn, right, helps unload a trunk load of donated canned food. - photo by HIME ROMERO
The Manteca Boy and Cub Scouts are taking a stand against hunger.

Half a dozen packs and dens hit the streets of Manteca Saturday morning with baskets and wagons in tow to ask those who had extra canned goods and other non-perishable foods to donate to their annual drive.

Boy Scouts William Hollingsworth and McKay Hammarstrom of Pack 440 teamed up for the effort. They came back to Sequoia Heights Baptist Church – ground zero for the sorting and the packaging – with two baskets full of everything from apple pie filling to green beans.

“Doing this gives me the feeling that I know I’m a part of something that’s bigger than me – something that will go on to help other people,” Hollingsworth said. “Having somebody out there that wants to make sure that they have a chance to sit down with their family and eat dinner means a lot to some people.”

Hammarstrom viewed the effort of going out and actually gathering cans much differently than those who might just see it as a routine exercise or annual event that scouting groups must participate in.

“You’re not just out there collecting cans, you’re helping people,” he said. “You’re helping them secure a holiday dinner, and you’re helping them in a time of need. I think that’s pretty cool.”
Uniform-clad scouts filtered through the parking lot and into the sorting area for the majority of the morning. Carts and bags full of groceries were the standard accessory, and the trickle of those returning increased as the morning turned into the afternoon.

According to volunteer Dave Tucker, there were seven packs and dens that were out collecting for the day, and all of the items collected will go to restock various food pantries in town that serve the community on a year-round basis. It is essentially a drive to make sure that those who need assistance with the most basic of necessities have a place to go.

“A lot of the pantries that serve people regularly are pretty empty when this time of year rolls around,” Tucker said. “We’re hoping to fill those shelves back up.”

Once the scouts returned with the food items, a team of volunteers waited with a unique assembly-line like setup that separated the different cans and boxes of food so they could be appropriately stored.

Fruits and vegetables dominated the majority of the donations, while boxes of Hamburger Helper and Rice-a-Roni were also popular additions to the baskets of those collecting.

And while the event wasn’t necessarily aimed at the Thanksgiving holiday, those who gave threw in things like pie crusts, apple filling, and stuffing mix – giving the church food pantry the chance to extend their Thanksgiving basket offering that they run separately from the food pantry.

“There are a lot of people out there that need assistance this year, and hopefully this event will help serve some of those people,” Tucker said. “It gives the kids a chance to do some service, and at the same time help those in need.”