East Rockaway Scouts help those in need


Every spring, Scouts all over the country pull together to help the hungry in their communities, going door-to-door to collect canned and nonperishable foods from neighbors to help stock local food banks.

That’s the idea behind Scouting for Food, the annual food-collection drive run by Scouts BSA. It’s a reminder to Scouts that doing good deeds is part of their mission, and a reminder to local communities that Scouting is about more than just merit badges and camping.

However, East Rockaway’s Scout Troop 332 realized that the usual method of asking door-to-door for donations was barely enough to help feed the hungry in their town, so they decided to take it a step further. Last month, Troop 332 knocked on doors, put out donation bins, and held a huge food collection drive on Saturday morning, April 27 at the Stop and Shop on Atlantic Avenue. When all the food was collected and weighed, and dozens of boxes filled with donations, Troop 332 had collected 1,400 pounds of food — nearly five times the amount they had collected each year in previous efforts.

“As Scout Leaders, we want to develop young people who are not only aware of needs in their community, but then take the initiative to help their community fill those needs,” Lissette Bernal-Cruz, Troop 332 assistant, who coordinates the Troop’s community service efforts, said. “We were just discussing with our Scouts how food insecurity has increased over the past couple of years and wanted to really push ourselves as a Troop this year to help people.”

Her colleague Peter Carbonaro, also an assistant scoutmaster with the Troop, concurs.

“Although our Troop participates in Scouting for Food every year, we wanted to make a statement this time,” Carbonaro said. “We began to ask ourselves, what can we do differently? How can we do things better? How can we ramp it up?”

Some of the local agencies that have partnered with Scouting for Food are the Mary Brennan INN Soup Kitchen, Island Harvest, and this spring’s partner agency, St. Raymond’s Food Pantry.

“When the Troop arrived at our pantry with cars full of food, we were astonished,” a representative for St. Raymond’s Parish Social Ministry said. “We are seeing families that used to show up at our pantry once a month, now showing up every couple of weeks for pantry staples, and there are always new families that need our help. These Scouts saw that challenge and rose up to meet it.”

Scouts BSA Troop 332 meets on most Fridays at 7:30 p.m. during the school year at the St. Raymond’s gymnasium, located at 263 Atlantic Ave. in East Rockaway. Parents of boys aged 11 to 17 who are interested in learning more about Scouting can contact Frank Honerkamp, Troop 332 scoutmaster, for more details at t332fwh@yahoo.com.

St. Raymond’s Food Pantry is always looking for nonperishable foods for their community distribution efforts. To donate food to the Pantry, call St. Raymond’s at (516) 593-5000.