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Advertise on the Tentacle

November 19, 2010

For Those in Need, Another Good Turn

Joe Charlebois

Last Saturday Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts spread out throughout Frederick County, the region and the nation to collect non-perishable goods to supply local food banks with desperately needed food stock.


As scouts, parents, volunteers and siblings passed out the plastic bags a few Saturdays ago, there always remained an uncertainty that the bag that was left flapping in the cool fall air would be returned to the doorstep for pickup on the following Saturday morning full of food for the needy.


This year – as it was last year when the bags were distributed – was a cruel reminder of just how difficult a time we are having with the current state of our economy. I noticed that there were a large number of houses where the leaves tumbled through the air to fall onto unraked sidewalks and stoops. I would call out to the boys “that house is vacant. Don’t leave a bag there!”


Open Venetian blinds exposed homes and townhouses that once were full of life had seemed to have been abandoned by their last tenant. Whether these units were foreclosures or unrented properties is uncertain, but these same homes were likely occupied just two years ago when the scouts made the same plea for the food bank.


Ironically this past Saturday our particular unit may have collected more food than it did two years ago. From the approximately 700 homes that our unit was collecting from 150 full bags of food were collected – on average nearly one bag for every 4 homes.


I’m uncertain of the actual weight of the collection, but it is possible that nearly half-a-ton of food was weighing down one of our leader’s pickup trucks as it snaked its way to downtown Frederick.  As the truck made it to its destination – the old B&O Railroad station which is now home to theFrederick Community Action Agency Center – a beehive-like atmosphere was in play. Scouts like worker bees swarmed over the arrival of each vehicle at the corner of South Market Street and East All Saints Street.


Sarah McAleavy, coordinator of Food and Nutrition for the City of Frederick, told me in a phone interview that the collection center received approximately 40,000 pounds of food and other needed products. She stated that this number is down slightly from last year.


She had over 200 volunteers from the Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations to help unload trucks, minivans, SUVs and trailers. They then sorted, stacked the bare shelves or filled the empty bins at the FCAC until 4 P.M.


Ms. McAleavy said that nearly 800 families are currently being aided by the city’s food bank. When a family receives support, the food it takes away will cover three to five days’ worth of meals. On average the FCAC distributesapproximately 66,000 items each month. With the increased demand, she estimated that the shelves will once again be bare by the end of February – as it was just last week. At that time the FCAC would then be required to dip into the cash fund that comes from monetary donations.


I asked Ms. McAleavy, with all that was collected, if there was still a need for anything in particular? She said that to her surprise canned vegetables were in low supply. Canned potatoes and green beans, which usually fill numerous bins, are about one fourth full.


She also noted that there was a great need still for any hygiene items, with a heavy emphasis on baby products such as wipes and diapers.


There are eight food banks within Frederick County that serve our neighbors. If you weren’t able to leave a bag for pickup last Saturday I’m sure that any one of these locations would be more than happy for a donation no matter the amount or time of year. (Your food banks)


Thank you Scouts, parents and volunteers for a successful campaign. Our neighbors appreciate it!


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