CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — Scouts from around the southern Saratoga County community next month will partner with volunteers and community minded citizens to help fill the shelves of a local food pantry.
The Scouting for Food Fund Drive is a national Scouting effort that takes place across the country on the same dates to replenish food pantries. Local Scouts are making the effort next month on behalf of the Shenendehowa Helping Hands Food Pantry located in the Jonesville United Methodist Church, 963 Main Street, Jonesville.
As they have in recent years, Scouts from local Scout troops and Cub Scout packs will head into a number of Clifton Park and Ballston Lake residential neighborhoods on two Saturdays in November. The first trip through the neighborhoods on Nov. 9 will notify homeowners about the program, the needs of the pantry, and the upcoming pick-up date.
Early on Nov. 16 the Scouts will return to those same neighborhoods to retrieve items that residents wish to donate to the food pantry. All the neighborhoods to be visited are north of Route 146 and west of the Northway.
“We’ll distribute about 2,500 door tags,” said Jim Swett, a charter organization representative with the Scouts and an administrative leader with Troop 6 and Pack 42. “We’re looking at visiting all of the Country Knolls subdivisions between Exits 10 and 11, Dutch Meadows, Torrey Pines, Sherwood Forest, Crown Point and the Village of Round Lake.”
Swett added that the Scouts will also visit Van Wyck Estates’ Stonegate Road, Chandler Drive, Eagle Trace, Oxford Park, and Pheasant Run.
Scouts from Troop 42 and Cub Scout Pack 44 from Corpus Christi Church will be joined by Scouts from Troop 246, sponsored by the Clifton Park Elks, and Scouts he works with at the church.
“We’re figuring about 30 participants from each group so around 150 Scouts should be out there on the two dates,” Swett said.
“This is our major event for resupplying the pantry,” said Helping Hands Pantry volunteer Caroline Komoroske. “People don’t realize the depth of the need in our area. By donating to us they can really help out a lot of people.”
Food items to be donated should be non-perishable and not beyond the item’s expiration date. Suggested food items for donation include general items like pasta, rice, soup mixes, and cereal. Komoroske noted the pantry also has a need for Thanksgiving food items like stuffing, gravy, boxed/dry potatoes, and cranberry sauce.
“No turkeys please,” she said.
Personal items like body wash, lotion, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and razors are also on the pantry’s wish list. Laundry detergent (not dish soap) is another item that the pantry could use.
“We’re asking that residents who wish to make donations place them at the end of their driveways near the road before 9 a.m. to make it easier on everyone,” Swett said. “Putting it out early helps the drivers avoid having to make extra trips back through the neighborhoods.”
Several school sports teams are expected to participate as are the 25 members of the Jonesville Methodist Church Youth Group. The latter will work in the church as “sorters” once the food items start arriving.
“The trips to the developments for hanging the door tags and making the pickups are pretty well planned but getting the donations from the car into the church and the sorting can be organized chaos,” Swett said.
The Shenendehowa Helping Hands Food Pantry was started in 1972 by Irma Osterhout and Kathy Sweeny. At first the pantry was run out of Sweeny’s home but it very quickly outgrew the space. Fortunately the Jonesville United Methodist Church offered them a spot. In April 2002 a large storage facility was added on to the church for the pantry’s use.
Today it operates with a volunteer base of 60 that includes six co-directors and a bank of workers from the community. The volunteers work weekly stocking shelves, serving clients, placing orders with the Northeast Regional Food Bank in Latham, and transporting the items from the Food Bank and from area food stores.
“This event is helpful to the community; we have 500 people a month who use the pantry,” Swett said. “It’s amazing and inspiring to see it all in action and then you think, this is only one food pantry and there are hundreds of people across the country doing the same thing. It’s an incredible activity.”