By ELENA GRANDE
For Your Niskayuna
NISKAYUNA — The boys of Cub Scout Pack 37, led by Niskayuna resident Dennis Quinn, are among those fighting against hunger this holiday season.
On Nov. 8, 14 of the 31 boys in the pack convened at Quinn’s residence on McClellan Street to discuss their plan of action and put it into motion.
Every year, Scouts across the country participate in Scouting for Food, a project to collect nonperishable food items from households to donate to local food pantries.
Pack 37 was assigned seven zones to cover in the Schenectady area for the project: Baker Avenue, Balltown Road, McClellan Street, Lexington Parkway, Dean Street, Providence Avenue and Regent Street.
The Cub Scouts were separated into smaller individual groups led by pack dads who kept an eye on the boys. Each group was given a supply of plastic bags, donated by Price Chopper, and assigned a zone in which to distribute them.
The pack distributed 1,400 bags, missing their goal — 2,000 — but far exceeding the 1,000 houses they’ve been assigned to visit in the past. The more ambitious goal is largely due to local food pantries having reported an increased need for food donations.
Quinn took up extra zones upon hearing that there weren’t enough packs in the area participating in the project. “These boys have such boundless energy,” he said, “so I figured we might as well try to collect as many food donations as we can.”
Quinn says on average, 15 percent of the bags the Scouts drop off are filled with donations of food and set out for them to pick up.
Scouting for Food is considered a tradition for not only the boys of Pack 37, but their fathers as well.
“What’s rewarding is how many people donate food — not just your typical canned goods. They donate stuffing, mac and cheese,” pack father Matt Dunham said. “We end up with large volumes of food.”
According to Andrew Kopach, the Scouting for Food coordinator for the Schenectady Scouting district, the project has been running nationwide for more than 20 years.
Schenectady’s Concerned for the Hungry, which has an affiliation with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Colonie, handles the food the Scouts collect.
Volunteers there work to sort items gathered in the Scout drive in order and trade them with the Food Bank to provide the right combinations for the free Thanksgiving baskets they hand out.
The Scouting for Food project enables the boys of Pack 37 to do their part in combating hunger in the local community and helps them learn the value of a warm, home-cooked holiday meal for people who might not otherwise have one.
The Cub Scouts will pick up the bags of food starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 15. Residents can simply fill the bag the Scouts left behind with contributions and leave it outside in a visible location.
Anyone who would like to donate, but didn’t get a donation bag, can drop off nonperishable goods at Keene Elementary School at 1252 Albany St. in Schenectady between 9 a.m. and noon that same day.