The food collection Saturday morning started small: a Boy Scout picked up a single bag of non-perishable food items off the front porch of a house and loaded it onto a pickup.
But this process repeated itself over and over again throughout the day until the scouts had collected truckloads of food.
Ash Nickel, who coordinated the Benton County Community Holiday Food Drive for the Linn Benton Food Share, said last year the scouts and other volunteers at the event collected about 20,000 pounds of food for the food share’s Thanksgiving boxes and food pantries. He said that he didn’t have a figure for the amount of food collected Saturday, but it seemed like the amount of food raised was slightly down from last year.
“We had a good year, but not a great year,” he said.
Nickel said at least 100 scouts were involved in collecting and sorting food items. Also participating were their parents and other volunteers. Nickel said the scouting groups distributed plastic bags throughout Philomath and Corvallis last weekend and then returned this week to collect filled bags from porches. The food collected was then sorted in a building at the Benton County Fairgrounds and collected by the food share.
Nickel said this was the food drive’s 39th year.
David Birken, scoutmaster of Corvallis’ Boy Scout Troop 2, said participating in the drive is good for local scouts because it shows them how collecting a few cans here and there can add up to a “mountain of food.”
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“They see how much good it does,” he said.
He added that service is a central part of what his troop does and the scouts participate without grumbling or complaining.
“They are all in and I think they will carry that into the rest of their lives,” he said.
He said Boy Scouts is intended to teach participants values, and service is a big part of that.
“It makes them better youths, better leaders and better people later in life,” he said.
Ryan Evans, a 14-year-old Corvallis High School freshman who is assistant senior patrol leader for Troop 2, said the scouts in the troop participate because they want to help others.
“It’s kind of impactful to see (how much food is gathered),” he said. “It’s like people from all over Corvallis are coming together to do something good.”