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Civic Impact

The Boy Scouts can, and you know you can -- if you have cans

Local Boy Scouts collect 7 million canned goods and other nonperishable food and household items each year as part of Scouting for Food. That sounds like a lot until you realize it can only help supplement local food banks for a single month.

"There is an issue of hunger in our region that most people are not aware of," says Bruce McDowell, director of Scouting for Food for the Greater Pittsburgh Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The drive, in its 25th year, runs during all of April. "There are a lot of people on the fringe who rely on supplemental food support. They're glad to have help throughout the year."

That includes the underemployed, the unemployed, single-parent households and the elderly. "Food banks run out of a lot of food supplies in the spring," he notes, after the holiday food drives end. About 120,000 families in Allegheny County are registered with local food banks, and thousands more need help in Beaver, Washington, Greene, Westmoreland and Fayette counties, which Scouting for Food also covers.

Your place of work or worship, your school, union or other group can sign up to participate in the food drive. Scouts also collect door to door there will be 4-5,000 Scouts filling 100,000 bags this year, McDowell estimates. This year's chair is Diane Holder, head of UPMC Health Plan, while Pitt-Ohio Express is providing the transportation.

"Our premise is teaching boys that helping other people is an important value. You get taught at an early age by participation. It's the principle of a good turn: doing something for other people without expectation of reward."

Do Good:

• If you can't donate through Scouting for Food, you can give directly to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Bruce McDowell, Greater Pittsburgh Council of the Boy Scouts of America
Image courtesy of Bruce McDowell, Greater Pittsburgh Council of the Boy Scouts of America

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