A 20-year tradition continued in Mid-Missouri, as hundreds of Boy Scouts collected more than 16,000 pounds of donated food in the Five Rivers District Saturday.
About 13,000 pounds was sorted by more than 150 community volunteers and donated to the Samaritan Center. Each troop or pack decided which food pantry it would donate to. Most of the donations in Jefferson City were being collected at a vacant space next to Save-A-Lot Saturday morning.
In the 16th month of his two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Brenden Smith suggested his experience in Scouting may have helped prepare him for this full-time service.
And Eagle Scout from Utah, Smith has been part of many Scouting for Food collections in the past.
He and his fellow missionaries volunteer twice a week at the Samaritan Center and were pleased at the opportunity to help out further
through this event.
"Our mission is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Smith said. "Doing service like this is a form of spreading the Gospel."
For the Jefferson City High School tennis team, which brought nearly 20 volunteers Saturday, community service is an expression of gratitude for the community's support of their program, said junior Spencer Bone.
"It's the character of this team, to be willing to be involved," Bone said. "Everyone here has a smile on their face; it's pretty magical, pretty contagious."
As a deacon at First Presbyterian Church, Bone also agrees donating his time and effort to this large-scale food collection is an expression of his faith.
"I'm called to serve God in all ways - on the court or where I am in life, it's the same thing," he said.
Scout Cameron Kayser, 18, from St. Peter Troop 4, has been volunteering with the local Scouting for Food for close to a decade. As a freshman at Missouri State University, he was pleased his spring break coincided so he could come back and help again.
"You do your own part," Kayser said. "It's great community-building."
Scouting For Food began in 1985 as a St. Louis Eagle Scout project. Since then, the concept has spread nationwide.
In the Five Rivers District, collections stretched from California to Owensville.
For the Samaritan Center, this is the first large influx of donations for the calendar year and comes at a time when it has depleted the holiday donations.