Scouts throughout the nation did a "good turn" Saturday, and Utahns responded generously by donating hundreds of tons of food for the needy.
The "Scouting for Food" drive, part of a national effort sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America, was "absolutely fantastic. It was incredible," said Larry V. Lunt, the Great Salt Lake Council's vice president for relationships and council chairman of the food drive."There are problems that we will have to deal with in the future, but it was obviously a smashing success. It's hard to know what the total amount will be, but it will be a huge amount," Lunt said Friday.
Last year, the Salt Lake Council collected about 60 tons of food. Scouting leaders in that council hoped to more than double that figure this year.
Saturday evening, Lunt estimated that 400 tons of food had been collected by the Great Salt Lake Council. Officials were still counting and weighing boxes during the evening in warehouse space provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Salt Lake City's west side.
Three other Utah councils, Cache Valley, Utah National Parks and Lake Bonneville, also participated in the drive. Shepherd said he received a telephone reportlate Saturday afternoon from Neil Butterfield, executive at the Cache council, that boys in that area had collected 40,000 items. Lake Bonneville reported 250,000 items, Shepherd said.
Figures on the Utah National Parks Council were not available.
Problems referred to by Lunt included Scouting districts running out of boxesand bags early in the day and the need for more trucks to haul food from collection points.
Shepherd said many of the 21 districts in the Salt Lake council ran out of boxes and bags as early as 10:30 a.m. As darkness fell on the Salt Lake Valley, Scouts and their leaders and Utah National Guardsmen were hauling the last of several truckloads of canned and packed food from a collection point, Skyline High School parking lot, in the Evergreen Scouting District.
As of 4 p.m., about six districts had called in reports to Great Salt Lake Council offices. Most of the six counted 18,000 to 19,000 separate cans or boxes of food. Murray District, which had 54 participating troops, reported collection of more than 25,000 items, Shepherd said.
Mark North, 11, a Blazer Scout in Troop 687 and son of LaVar and Francyne North, said he got his first real experience in gathering food for the needy on Saturday.
"One family on Cheyenne Street gave us a whole box of food. I feel sorry forthe people out there without enough money or food to support their families," the youth said.
Paul A. Aldous, Scoutmaster of Troop 524, sponsored by the Cannon 5th Ward, Salt Lake Cannon LDS Stake, said he believes the 12 boys in his troop "learned that everyone can lend a hand to help those in need. They have learned how to go door to door and talk with people. We appreciate the cooperation of people. Without them this wouldn't work."