CARBONDALE - Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts throughout the Greater St. Louis Area Council canvassed neighborhoods Saturday collecting bags of non-perishable food for area food banks.
The Scouting for Food program is the largest single-day food drive for the Boy Scouts of America. The program started in 1985 in the St. Louis area and has expanded across the country.
In it's more than two decades of existence, the program has collected 43 million food items for the needy, according to Carbondale Cub Master Geoff Schropp.
Schropp said this year was his sixth participating in the food drive, and it involved more than 40,000 scouts in 37 counties. The campaign is spread out over the same two weekends each year, he said. Scouts distribute plastic bags to be filled the first weekend and return to collect the food the second weekend.
"It's been a real big help," Schropp said. "I know food banks are always in need - especially this time of year."
As cub master of Troop 251, Schropp said he tries to reinforce the importance of the food drive to the more than 30 participating Cub Scouts.
"I tell them this is one of the most important things we do as far as helping and demonstrating the Scouts' ethics," he said. "The Scouts have great fun."
But Schropp said the Scouts can't do it alone, and they are thankful to community for their support.
"Ultimately they're the ones buying the food and donating it."
JoAnn Grammer, food service manager at Good Samaritan Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen, whose organization is one of the recipi-ents of the scouts' effort, said the drive means a lot, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner.
"This really helps a lot," Grammer said. "So far it's unbelievable all the food they've brought."
Amy McMorraw Hunter volunteered Saturday to help her son's den collect items. She said the Scouting for Food program is a good way to give children an understanding of what it means to give.
"In the season of the year where it's all about toys, it's just a chance for a different perspective."