Be prepared: Scouts hope to collect more than 12 tons of food Saturday

By on November 15, 2017

Getting ready to hit the road for the Scouting for Food drive from St. James Church on Nov. 11 are (sitting, left to right) Girl Scouts Elizabeth Motz and Kayla Stuckey, Cub Scout Ryan Stritch with his brother Boy Scout Collin Stritch. Standing are (l-r) Scoutmasters Bill Armstrong and Melonni Shields and Boy Scouts Michael Caplinger, Connor Eisenbach and Graham Dirian.

Last Saturday, some 200 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts braved the morning chill to support the Lititz Warwick Community Chest, dropping off bags and cards at some 10,500 homes in the Warwick School District for the “Scouting for Food” annual fall food drive.

In 2016, the drive brought in nearly 24,000 pounds of nonperishable food items for the community according to LWCC’s Beth Trachte.

“It is the LWCC’s largest drive of the year and important to replenish nonperishable food stocks for families who find themselves in need not only in the fall but all year,” says Trachte, pantry coordinator since 2009.

The drive is run by Scout Troops 142, 44, and 154, with the help of Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts from several troops, parents and friends.

“It takes a real coordinated effort,” says Melonni Shields, Scoutmaster (with Bill Armstrong) of Boy Scout Troop 142. “This year is a transition year for all of us. In the past we have passed out plastic bags for homeowners to fill for pick up the following Saturday (this year it is Nov. 18). If it was a windy day, the bags became kites and flew around the neighborhood.”

Shields explains that with the help of sponsor — Lebanon Farms Disposal — cardboard, door hangers were printed for 2017 with the national logo for the Scouting for Food program with a list of items needed.

“We hope,” Shields says, “that the environmentally friendly cards will make it easier for township residents to see what is needed, fill bags per instructions and leave them for pick up by the Scouts this Saturday, Nov. 18, starting at 8:30 a.m.”

The Scouting for Food Drive is the largest of three drives held during the year to support the Community Chest. The items in the filled collection bags are sorted by category for the Community Chest by the Scouts, Trachte explains, and then volunteers put the nonperishables on pantry shelves to be pulled and packed by LWCC drivers making deliveries to families in the Warwick School District.

LWCC is 100 years old and was started by local nurse-midwives who needed financial resources to help families in need who they served. In the 1980s, the group shifted more toward a food bank as that was the need. The volunteer group works closely with the school district home school visitor in keeping an eye on its lunch program for needy children and looking for community need trends.

Troop 142 Scoutmaster Melonni Shields reviews a delivery map
with a volunteer.

The school district has seen a five percent increase in children who qualify for free or reduced cost lunches just in the past nine years Trachte has been the pantry coordinator. The most recent peak year in community need was 2014 when some 315 Township families were assisted and LWCC distributed more than 78,000 pounds of food. The LWCC numbers run parallel to the school children who qualify for lunch assistance and have dropped off slightly in the past two years.

LWCC is a volunteer group and makes deliveries to families who reach out and speak to one of the LWCC phone consultants. The information on family size and need is passed on to a delivery volunteer who packs the nonperishable food and then does a supermarket run for fresh food, vegetables, and hygiene items before delivering. Trachte explains calls must be made by a family member and someone from the family must accept the initial delivery and up to four subsequent deliveries over the course of a year. The average food delivery size is about 115 pounds of nonperishable items plus $75 of fresh meat and dairy products.

“The LWCC is unique,” Trachte explains, “because it receives no federal or state funds, there are no specific qualifying guidelines a family in need has to meet.”

The family, she explains, must call and ask for LWCC help and be home to meet the delivery volunteer.

Besides the thousands of pounds of nonperishable goods donated through fund drives, LWCC receives $20,000, half its yearly budget through grants, from the Anne Brossman Sweigart Charitable Foundation and the Rotary Club of Lititz. The money is used to purchase perishable items and hygiene products for the delivery orders by the LWCC volunteer driver.

Trachte emphasizes that this is a very supportive community and LWCC volunteers are thankful for the help to continue their work.

Residents are reminded that Scouts will be out starting at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday to pick up the bags of nonperishable items for the LWCC, and all are hoping to surpass the nearly 24,000 pounds collected in 2016.

Art Petrosemolo is a freelance feature writer and photographer who recently retired to this area from New Jersey. He welcomes reader feedback at artpetrosemolo@comcast.net.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *