Anette Ahrens experienced the spirit of giving with her son Brendan during the Boy Scouts' charitable "Scouting for Food" collection drive. A resident didn't understand initially, but the spirit of giving prevailed.
"We hit one house last week. An Asian woman showed up in her nightgown. She didn't understand, but there was a bag there this morning," Ahrens said.
Ahrens and her son Brendan were out on the street in the Sydenstricker Methodist Church area on Saturday, Nov. 15, collecting the bags of food, bringing them to ECHO for redistribution, along with other Scout groups. All morning long, minivan after minivan pulled up to the back doors of ECHO, the Ecumenical Community for Helping Others, on Old Keene Mill Road, and unloaded bags full of food. Scout Troop 859 was manning the collection site. Grant Thornton is the scoutmaster for 859.
"We've done 20,000 pounds the last few years," he said.
David Zehr, 11, had blisters on his hands from unloading the bags. He's a sixth-grader at Saratoga Elementary School.
"This is the most I've seen come here. This is a way we can help them," he said.
Les Gulyas estimated this year’s collection to be about the same as last year’s. In the end, Saturday's drive collected 21,514 pounds of food.
"It must have been about six to 700 pounds just from our troop," Gulyas said.
Denise Coffey, a mother with Cub Scout Pack 686 in West Springfield, liked seeing the Scouts help out.
"They know that there are people out there that are more unfortunate than they are," Denise said.
ECHO volunteer John Ray noticed that the economy and demographics in the area have led to lower food supplies this year.
"Demand has been increasing, but our contributions are slightly declined," he said.
David Branson, 8, and Christopher Butters were with Cub Scout Troop 1853. They worked as a team on the streets.
"Me and him, we had a cart, and we'd go knocking on doors," David said.
The National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America sponsors Scouting for Food. Supporters included WUSA 9 News, Safeway, Interstate Worldwide Location and Capital Area Foodbank. The Scouts went out and solicited donations on Saturday, Nov. 8; distributed specially marked bags; and picked up the food the following Saturday. Anyone wishing to donate can still do so, though. See listing.