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oddball

How about a little good news?

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So my son and I went out today to work on his SM approved service project for his Star rank. Our C.O. is a church, which operates a food pantry, so he's going to hang out in front of grocery stores once per month for 6 months and run a food drive.

 

Temps in the 30s, but he made it 3-1/2 hours, and collected enough food to fill two shopping carts to overflowing. He also received $125.00 in cash donations. With the city food bank charging $0.19 per lb, to privately operated pantries, that cash will let the C.O. buy a little over 650 lbs more food.

 

With Christmas coming this week, I guessed folks would be pretty generous. We'll see how January goes, but I hope we can help keep the pantry stocked.

 

In reviewing today's work with my son, I outlined all the good this project will do:

1. Most importantly, feed the hungry.

2. Assist the church's pantry with its mission (the pantry manager told us tonight the pantry's budget had been cut).

3. Give people an opportunity to actively be charitable. By buying an extra can or two of food, they think about what they might need themselves were they hungry, they participate actively in feeding the hungry.

4. Well, let's face it, asking folks to spend more money in the grocery store helped them out a bit, but that's ok, as they let us sell popcorn even though they do too.

5. Provided the boys in the troop a community service opportunity.

6. Reflected positively on the BSA. (a woman gave us a bag of groceries, and in tears, hugged me, telling me when her husband got out ot the military, they had nothing, and would have gone hungry had it not been for church food pantries).

7. Taught him something about people and how to interact with them.

8. And of course, his hard work will merit his advancement.

 

Anyone else doing recurring community service projects? Let's hear about them!

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Great project! Really, if he keeps it up, ask the SM to get him a quartermaster patch and write "community" in the top of the circle!

 

Our CO operates a local food pantry as well. The boys help stock it with Scouting for Food collections. (Really, since where we store flags and some ceremonial gear is next to to the pantry, they can't miss it. From time to time, they go through and check expiration dates on the items.) Usually once a year, cubs canvas the neighborhood, and on a different weekend boy scouts collect at a store front on a Saturday. When times are tough, the boys will arrange with a store for an additional collection. All our boys are up to their eyeballs in service hours, but this would count for any who needed them.

 

We don't do store-front popcorn sales. However, as part of our spaghetti dinner, the church "purchases" meals for their pantry clients anonymously. But the $ aren't where the benefit lies. We'd never know who these clients were if not for some of them take a moment to talk to the boys waiting on their table and tell them how their efforts put decent meals on their family's table when they couldn't afford it while between jobs. Frankly, the occasional "thank you" is the best reward those boys could ever have. (From time to time, the lady who coordinates the pantry does take a moment to swing by the troop meeting to thank the boys, but it's not quite the same.)

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Our troop does a lot of stuff like this. We collect or grow more than 15,000 (that's right, fifteen-thousand) pounds of food for the local food pantry and soup kitchens. This summer one of our Eagle projects was to build a reading room for a community afterschool program and collected over 8,000 books. Another Scout did a juice drive (collecting juice boxes for the same program) as his Second Class service project. He's continued it every year and is trying to figure out how to make it into an Eagle project.

 

While all that is important and meaningful, the one thing we miss is direct contact with the beneficiaries. Charities these days are so sensitive to clients' privacy, they hardly allow any contact between the Scouts and the clients. We're frequently asked to bring donations before or after hours or to use side entrances to avoid contact with clients. Worse yet are charities which only want cash. I understand the logistics, but it is short-sighted.

 

When I was a kid, my mom taught sewing classes to needy moms so they could make clothes for their own children. As a side project, my mom found used sewing machines for some of these folks. I can remember helping her deliver a treadle sewing machine to a family literally living in a tar-paper shack. While my mom helped the lady set up the sewing machine, I played in the yard with her kids. One was a friend from school, and a younger brother was later in our Scout troop.

 

Making personal connections with folks should be a big part of service to others. Unfortunately concerns about privacy and self-esteem come at the cost of real compassion and empathy. Scouts need to learn to help other people while helping them maintain their dignity. Knowing and understanding the people you are helping teaches that.

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Our troop has "adopted" a section of forest preserve and do woods cleanups three or four times a year. It's remarkable the amount of trash we pick up, and the variety! Bowling balls, lawn chairs, credit cards, etc.! A running/biking trail runs thru the area and we are constantly thanked by the runners and bikers for cleaning up the area. The FPD did install a sign saying "This area adopted by Boy Scout Troop 90" so it's some publicity for us too!

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Worse yet are charities which only want cash. I understand the logistics' date=' but it is short-sighted.[/quote']

 

But for food banks, the logistics however are huge! If for every $10 of food donated they instead got $1 of cash, they would still be way ahead.

 

It's one of the problems I have with Scouting for Food. Our pack participates every year, but it's more for the scouts than for the food banks. If it was for the food banks, we would be soliciting cash donations directly to the food bank instead of requesting food. But then, all the cubs would do is distribute flyers about the food banks and that would be it.

 

I remember reading a while back an interview with someone with a local food bank that food donations actually hurt them. If they didn't have to spend any time and money on processing food donations, they would actually be able to distribute more food. But saying no to food donations would be a PR disaster, so they take the hit. I wonder if that is true?

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2011/12/food_drives_charities_need_your_money_not_your_random_old_food_.html

 

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I was told by our county food pantry that for every $1 donation received they can purchase $6 of food through the local food bank. This was a few years back but I suspect that's probably still true. Not to mention they can purchase what they need at that particular moment.

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Thanks for sharing this, Oddball!

 

My Troop does frequent projects to help those currently experiencing homelessness.

 

1. The Road Home (trhome.org) --Three or four times per year, our Scouts move folding cots and personal belongings up and down several flights of stairs. This rotating model gives families a warm place to stay each week.

2. Church food pantry--We collect food throughout the year but mostly through Scouting for Food, like many Troops and Packs.

3. Soup Kitchen--Our Scouts cook a hot meal and serve it at the local men's drop-in shelter.

 

We also concentrate on environmental conservation and awareness with monthly stream-monitoring projects at a local urban creek. It's part of a larger watershed that empties into the Rock River. The Scouts get to test the dissolved oxygen, water clarity, and biotic index of the stream. I think their favorite part is playing with the bugs. :D

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I have a friend from high school who is active in all sorts of social causes, including the food pantry where she lives. A year or so ago she shared an article on FaceBook from some minister calling for churches with ministries for the hungry to "embrace the government." The premise of the article is that the government provides something on the order of two-thirds (I don't remember the exact figure) of all nutrition programs in the country. Between school lunches, AFDC, food stamps, and good ol' guv'ment cheese, that's probably right. His point being that churches couldn't begin to feed the poor, so they should focus their resources on supporting government program.

 

That's the second step. The first is telling people not to collect food or clothing, to help the poor, just send a check. It's easier on everyone involved. You never have to get up from your chair, charities and buy what they need (or electronically add it to their debit card) and the poor are never embarrassed by actually accepting help from another human.

 

Yes, we want to actually help folks and we each have personal obligations to do so. But as a Scoutmaster, I'm charged with teaching young men personal development, citizenship, kindness and helpfulness. As with most things in Scouting, efficiency and productivity are frequently a hindrance to teaching young men these lessons. I want my guys to freeze their butts off in a cold February rain collecting can goods. I want them to have a backache and sunburn from working the troop garden. And I want the to see the faces of the folks in line as the food pantry when we show up with a pickup truck load of melon in the summer. that's how they learn the long lessons.

 

Maybe down the road, may Scouts will be motivated to go online and type their credit card number into some charity's website. But they already know how to do that. I'm working to give them the motivation to do so.

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... premise of the article is that the government provides something on the order of two-thirds (I don't remember the exact figure) of all nutrition programs in the country. Between school lunches' date=' AFDC, food stamps, and good ol' guv'ment cheese, that's probably right. His point being that churches couldn't begin to feed the poor, so they should focus their resources on supporting government program. ....[/quote'] That's what Marx said! ;) Truth is, in an agrarian society, all of us would be responsible for supporting the poor. (Allowing them gleaning rights, for example.) We have built an industrial society, and as a result our individual responsibility for the poor has been misplaced. It is in our nation's interest the poor are maintained healthy and ready to join the workforce, but it's also in it's interest that individual citizens keep that sense of self-reliance that seems to drive innovation. So there is a balance between lean professionally run national programs and volunteer rallies that engage citizens at a basic level.

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lean professionally run national programs

 

Run by Uncle Sugar? Surely you jest. (Or qwazse you jest)

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