The Call to Action: “Will you Do your Duty to help others?” This call went out to Aquia District Scouts BSA last month asking them to participate in a No Contact Food Drive held May 16, 2020.
The Answer: “We will Do our Best to Help Other People!” – that’s part of, and the heart of, the Scout Oath well-known by every BSA Scout.
The Results: Scouts and their family members across Stafford County answered the call and collected 5,706 lbs of food and over $2,500 was raised for several food pantries, by Scouts sharing the pantries’ electronic donation links with local churches that had requested that information be provided, as another avenue for community residents to help.
Scouts in Aquia District traditionally participate in Scouting For Food, a BSA national food drive held every November. Going door-to-door in neighborhoods and collecting in front of stores that grant BSA Scout units permission, Scouts work hard. Last November, Scouts collected 24,899 pounds of food for eight Stafford County pantries. In retrospect, that seemed like an easy feat in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge: How to support local pantries and keep Scouts, their families, pantry volunteers and donors all safe?
Before the current crisis, pantries supported by the annual Scouting For Food food drive were regularly feeding anywhere between four to forty families per week depending on the pantry. Corona-virus related job loss and furloughs created a greater need and most Stafford County pantries have remained open on the front lines of the fight against food insecurity. However, as pantries face an increase in clients, they are experiencing a decrease in ways to garner donations of food. Donations of food via food drives are the main source of non-perishables for these food pantries.
Scout units are typically assigned neighborhoods to canvas during Scouting For Food and the publicity is Nation-wide and the event well-known. In a team effort, Scouts band together to deliver sticky notes requesting donations on the first weekend of November and collect food on the second weekend filling their trailers, trucks and vehicles with the generosity of Stafford residents.
However, the mid-year call to fill the pantries due to the impacts from the on-going pandemic required a new approach to get the word out to Stafford residents for this food drive and to gather food safely without physical contact. Aquia District Scouts were asked to participate to whatever extent they could manage that would honor their individual family’s rules for safely addressing risks associated with COVID-19. This ranged from Scouts sharing information about the items needed by the pantries via email and social media or by paper fliers asking neighbors and friends to bring their donations to one of two drop-off points on May 16, to sharing that information with their neighbors on their surrounding streets and then, on May 16, donning masks and gloves and picking up donations from doorsteps and bringing them to the drop off location. Drop off locations manned by Aquia District Scouts were carefully orchestrated to maintain distance between Scouts, pantry volunteers and community bringing in donations. Each station, from holding signs directing traffic to Scouts collecting bins filled with donations to other Scouts weighing those donations, were “self-contained” activities.
Stafford food pantries continue to meet the needs of the Stafford community every week. This No Contact Aquia District Scout BSA food drive showed what Scouts can do even during this tough time. Their efforts helped stock shelves that were quickly emptying. “On My Honor, I will Do my Best, to do my Duty to God and my Country…” is also part of the BSA Scout Oath. Our Scouts did their duty and we should all be proud of their meaningful service to our community.
The need continues as the community struggles with the fallout created by the current health crisis. As one of the pantry workers said: “We believe our Food Pantry is the most important part of the “Service” element of our ’Worship, Witness, Service’ Church mission statement. As the second chapter of James says, ‘Faith without works is dead’. Bless you and all our Scouts and parents for all that you do to help us!” Service remains a cornerstone of Scouting and Aquia District Scouts will pull together again this August to do another food drive.
Are you ready to help others too? To join BSA, go to www.beascout.org to find a BSA Scout unit near you – Cub Scouting serves families with children in Kindergarten through 5th Grade; Scouts BSA serves families with children ages 11-18. There are also BSA programs for families with older Youths, ages 14 – 21, including becoming Venturers, Explorers or Sea Scouts.
The mission of the BSA is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. The Aquia District is part of the National Capital Area Council (NCAC) of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The Aquia District includes Stafford County, Virginia, and Marine Corps Base Quantico. For more information on Scouting in the Fredericksburg area, including how to donate, join or volunteer, contact Tom Friedel, District Executive, at Tom.Friedel@Scouting.org or call Tom at 301-221-4286.