Organizers and participants in this year's Scouting for Food project hope to surpass last year's efforts in collecting items for the Canal Winchester Food Pantry.
Members of Cub Scout Pack 103, Boy Scout Troop 103 and the Girl Scouts of Canal Winchester will conduct the fifth annual food drive from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 16.
Nearly 100 volunteers will canvass village neighborhoods for donations of nonperishable food items, personal care items and cash. All donations will benefit the Canal Winchester Food Pantry, which serves families in need in Canal Winchester, Lithopolis and Carroll.
"This is probably our No. 1 community event that we've done throughout the year," said Thomas Obert, Pack 103 Cubmaster. "It benefits so many people in the community."
According to Susan Tomlinson, chairperson for Scouting for Food, there were 355 people served by the food pantry last month.
"When prices are going up, and gas prices are going up, there's a big need," Tomlinson said.
The scouts range in age from first grade to 12th grade, and Obert said even the young scouts recognize the significance of this event.
"My son is now in second grade, and he understands very well that what he is doing is helping the people that are currently unable to provide for themselves and their families," he said.
Obert's son, Tommy, is "very excited" to take part in Scouting for Food.
"It feels really good," Tommy Obert said of stocking the shelves of the food pantry. "It's helping people It helps people live and gives them a real good meal."
Last year, the scouts collected more than 3,000 food items and raised more than $300 in cash donations.
According to Obert, past success is the underlying reason why Scouting for Food has become an annual event.
"When we've done this in the past, we've had such great success with it that it's typical for the pantry to be full," he said. "We stock the shelves. "We always try to strive to do better than we did the year before," Obert said.
Tomlinson said she thought scout participation was low last year, but she has high expectations for this year.
"I think we'll go 5,000 (donated items) or over," she said. "I just feel that we're going to have a lot of participation this year."
Scouting for Food is an opportunity for people to give back to the community, Obert said.
"We're hoping for a good turnout," he said. "We're not asking for anybody else to donate their time, we're not asking for anybody else to donate huge sums of anything. Just a little bit from everybody will make a great impact on this food drive."
Obert has been involved in scouting since he was a child, and he, too, plans to donate items to this year's food drive.
"I'm fortunate enough that I don't need their (the food pantry's) services now, but someday, if I did, I would hope somebody would be there to do what we're doing to help me out as well," he said.
Tommy Obert agrees and encourages the community to donate.
"It's a nice thing to do," he said.
"This might be you someday," he added. "So you should help out and help us."
The local Lions Club is sponsoring the food drive and will be assisting the scouts in transporting collected items to the food pantry. The Canal Winchester Food Pantry is in need of cereal, boxed dinners, Jello, baking items, pastas, chunky soups, crackers, Manwich, canned fruit, shampoo, deodorant and laundry soap.
Cash donations will be used by the pantry to secure items that have not been donated.
Residents can leave their donations on their front porches for pickup. Items should be labeled with a note stating they are for Scouting for Food.
Donations also can be dropped off at the food pantry at David's United Church of Christ, 80 W. Columbus St.