Scouts, National Guard personnel and thousands of other volunteers went into the grocery business for a few hours Saturday - all to benefit needy individuals and families in Utah.
Figures were still being tabulated late Saturday afternoon, but it appears "total collections for this year will be slightly under the amount collected last year. However, it was successful, especially in view of recent heavy storms. We are pleased with the generosity of the public," said volunteer Scouting leader and "Scouting for Food" drive chairman Dennis L. Crock-ett.Food contributions last year (about 1 million items) in the areas served by the Great Salt Lake and Utah National Parks councils of the Boy Scouts of America were valued at $2 million. They were all donated in a single day, according to Ted Phillips, another volunteer Scouting leader.
Crockett and Phillips said the drive would not have been possible without strong support from at least 30,000 Scouts and their leaders, approximately 250 members of the National Guard and an estimated 100 to 150 other volunteers. The Guard furnished many pieces of equipment, including trucks and front-end loaders for moving snow at the Utah Food Bank.
Food collected Saturday in the 12th annual effort was taken to the food bank, a program operated by the Community Services Council, and to food pantries stretching from Kaysville on the north to St. George on the south.
Scouting youths and their leaders were out doing a "good turn" as they trudged through deep snow in many places to pick up donated and commercially canned and packaged food.
Food collected in this drive greatly helps the food bank meet the demand for an increasing number of people needing assistance, food bank director Brenda Thompson said.
Church, grocery store and other parking lots were abuzz with activity as pickup trucks, cars and other vehicles, all loaded with food, began arriving mid-Saturday morning.
John Minson, chairman of the food collection in the Ensign Peak Scouting District, and many other Scouting volunteers, including Bob Harden, kept operations moving smoothly in a large parking lot at Riverside LDS Stake Center, where sorting tables and other equipment were located.
The food drive is a "great activity to teach service and helping other people. The Scouting program teaches boys that they can do just about anything that they put their minds to," Harden said.
Scoutmaster John Haley, West Valley City, and a group of 10 handicapped youths in Troop 1257 were among a large number gathered at the stake center.
The Scouts were "anxious to come today. They just want the opportunity to work. Some are a little slow, but they get the job done," said Haley, who was accompanied by his grandson, Cub Scout Johnny Fultz, 8, of Rose Park.
While Scouts and their leaders unloaded and boxed food, other volunteers such as Kent Mayberry, Rose Park, prepared a hot meal of beef stew and rolls.
"I love (being here). I've been cooking in Dutch ovens for three years," Mayberry said as he sliced potatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms and celery for the stew, which was cooking over propane-fired burners.
Utah National Guard officers, Maj. Bret Hutchings and Chief Warrant Officer Terry Haslam, said the Guard likes to be involved. And the collection effort bolsters military training efforts in communications and other fields, they said.
"This food drive would never come off as it does without the National Guard. Their assistance is invaluable," Crockett said.