AURORA -- Scouting for Food in Aurora wrapped up another successful year thanks to the generosity of the community.
"This is the 14th year, our troop and pack sponsored by Our Lady of Perpetual help in Aurora has organized Scouting for Food to benefit the Aurora Food Pantry at Volunteers of America, collecting over 3,000 pounds of food," said Scouting for Food chairman Gary Jancsurak.
The program started in 2004 as a door to door campaign. The Scouts delivered bags to homes throughout Aurora one weekend and picked up the groceries the following weekend. The next year the Scouts added a retail component, soliciting donations from patrons at Walmart and Big Lots.
Scouts ask patrons to make a purchase and donate it to the pantry as they leave the store.
Two years ago another organization -- Food2Share -- organized a door-to-door campaign, and rather than competing, Jancsurak and Food2Share organizer Bruce Harris met to develop a plan that would increase awareness of hunger in Aurora.
The plan involved Food2Share carrying out the door-to-door campaign and Scouting for Food continuing to solicit donations at area stores. The result turned out to be the first time ever that the Food Pantry did not ration food over the summer.
"The Boy Scouts are key contributors to the success of this effort to raise awareness about the problem of hunger through their longtime program and I thank them," said Mayor Ann Womer-Benjamin.
Scouting for Food not only collects food, but seeks donations of paper and hygiene products, including toilet paper, hand soap, laundry detergent, dish liquid, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
Becky Carolino, development director for Volunteers of America, thanked Jancsurak for organizing Scouting for Food for so many years, collecting tens of thousands of pounds of food and necessities the pantry doesn't normally receive.
After scouts from Troop 265, 269 and Pack 3269 collected donations at the stores, the boys and other volunteers delivered them to the Volunteers of America. VOA director Sue Altman was visibly moved by the generosity of the community and she expressed her thanks to the boys for everything they are doing to help others in Aurora.
As she was hugging one boy, she was heard saying, "You guys are fantastic. Thank you for helping. Because of you, there are kids like you that won't go hungry this summer."
Donations are still being accepted, and can be dropped off at the Volunteers of America at Route 43 and Moneta Avenue. The most needed items are peanut butter, jelly, canned fruit, canned meat/stew, rice,macaroni and cheese, cereal, hamburger/tuna helper, pancake mix/syrup and sloppy Joe mix.
One non-food item that is in great need at this time are disposable diapers for infants and toddlers.