Food Drive Brings More than Food Together In One Place

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FoodDriveEdit
Only a sample of the food collected on November 14th, photo by Sara Ottomano.

By Sara Ottomano
“Ninety-eight!” yelled a volunteer at the ‘Scouting for Food Drive’ at Project Just Because on 86 South Street, Hopkinton.  A mixture of laughs and puzzled faces followed as the volunteer triumphantly held up a can of tomato sauce. The game of finding the oldest food can, while date checking them, has resulted in a product eleven years past its expiration.

Over the course of seven hours on Saturday November 14th and countless hours in preparation, around 530 Boy and Girl scouts and 200 adults helped make the food drive a success.  Karen T. Bograd, the coordinator of the drive for the past three years and involved for eight years with scouting, stated that it was one of the “events that you don’t have to beg” in order to get scouts to volunteer. Every year, both the town’s Boy and Girl Scouts want to contribute to the drive, which runs smoothly with teamwork and cooperation.  Emma Dionne, a Girl Scout volunteer, says the reason she comes to help out is that “it is fun,” as well as a Girl Scout tradition.

Bograd started the planning for this all the way back in September, and preparations lasted all the way until the day of the event itself.  The food drive is done in four broad steps. Bags are dropped off at houses several days in advance and the food is collected, sorted, and finally packed away.  This organization relies on shifts of sorters and heavy lifters to make a sucessful drive possible.  The food is date checked twice and boxed away in their respective places.

The food drive was hindered by the rain this year, therefore decreasing the amount of food donated.  In the previous year, around 16,000 pounds of food was collected, according to Jack Ryan, a Boy Scout leader and head volunteer with ten years of experience volunteering. This year, it is expected that there will be only 14,000 pounds of food due to the downpour of rain.

The food drive includes approximately 72 routes with roughly 5,000 bags placed on mailboxes by the Scouts. Originally based in the Woodville Church’s basement, moving to the Senior Center for a short while, then finally arriving at Project Just Because, the drive is a community effort which guarantees to see the same faces year after year. Jack Ryan said that due to a “core group of volunteers”, the event consistently runs smoothly. He also stated that it is great to see that even with the economy down, people can receive food from the food pantry and “it only costs a Saturday.” Every volunteer agreed that it was a rewarding experience. The outpouring of support for the roughly four hundred and six people who visit the food pantry over the course of the year shows that Hopkinton residents are willing to volunteer their time for those less fortunate.
The food drive collects many items, everything from octopus in a can to dried apricots. Even if people could not volunteer or donate for the event on Saturday, it is possible to make a contribution at any time to Project Just Because. Visit  http://www.projectjustbecause.org/index.asp to learn more. Just make sure the donated food is not expired to ensure it does not win the oldest can contest.

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