By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Late Saturday afternoon we called Andy Leahy on his cell phone to see how the Brentwood Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts did on their annual food drive. He sounded relaxed and satisfied.
“It was a good day,” he said.
Yes it was. Brentwood residents donated, and scouts picked up, more than 10,000 cans and jars of nonperishable food items on Saturday. Leahy said they filled 357 cardboard boxes. At about 30 cans/jars a box, that’s almost 11,000 items.
A few hours before the phone call, Leahy was anything but relaxed. He was in the vortex of a storm of activity at the old Brentwood fire station. He and several other scout leaders were helping coordinate the pickup, sorting and boxing of the food.
It actually began on Nov. 9, when dozens of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from Brentwood delivered a blue plastic bag to almost every door handle in the city, with a request to put nonperishable food items in the bag and set it out for pickup on Nov. 16. The initiative is called Scouting for Food.
So on Saturday morning, Leahy and several other scout leaders set up the food drop-off center at the fire house at about 9 a.m. By about 9:45, dozens of scouts began a well coordinated pickup of the blue bags. The youngsters were from Cub Scout Pack 656, sponsored by the Brentwood School District, and Troop, Crew and Pack 361, chartered by St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Parish.
The scouts rode in cars and minivans to pick up the bags, which were then taken to the fire station. Inside the station, the cans and jars were sorted by types of food, then boxed. The boxes were stacked onto pallets, secured with plastic wrap and loaded onto a truck for delivery to the St. Louis Area Food Bank, in Bridgeton. The charity, http://www.stlfoodbank.org/, supplies about 500 food pantries in eastern Missouri and southwest Illinois.
“You realize how important this is when you deliver the food to the pantry and you see people waiting for it on Monday morning,” said scout leader Tim O’Donnell.
O’Donnell and Leahy have helped organize the scouts’ annual food drive in Brentwood since it was started in St. Louis in 1985. Since then it has gone national, with 30,000 scouts now collecting more than 2 million cans a year.
“It’s the best way for kids to learn how to help one another,” said Leahy. “That’s what we’re about.”
The 357 boxes Brentwood scouts filled on Saturday is 124 more than last year. Leahy credits most of the increase to a pickup truck load of cans that was donated by a small grocery store that recently closed. Brentwood Scout leaders made the pickup on Saturday morning, just in time for processing at the fire station.
Said scout leader Dan O’Neal, with a smile, “The timing couldn’t be better.”