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Boy Scouts’ food drive brings hope to West Hemsptead

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With activities limited due to the coronavirus pandemic, West Hempstead Boy Scout Troop 240 had sought ways to give back to people in need. Aware of the growing need for nonperishable food, the scouts held a food drive June 1-10 to support West Hempstead High School’s food pantry.

“We had heard about so many families affected by the loss of jobs within the West Hempstead community,” said Assistant Scoutmaster Mary Canzoneri, who proposed the idea for the food drive. “Whatever the community asks of us, we make it happen.”

Canzoneri kept a bin on her front porch, in which people dropped off food each day. She said she received more than 100 nonperishable food items, much to her surprise.

“There’s so many variables to the loss of income right now,” she said, “so I wasn’t expecting this huge pile of canned, boxed and nonperishable items in my living room right now. My biggest takeaway is that if you give people a way to help, they’ll respond. I’m just overwhelmed with the response.”

Canzoneri said she spread the word about the food drive through email blasts and social media. Her husband, Scoutmaster Joseph Canzoneri, said the results also exceeded his expectations amid other issues such as the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests. The food drive’s success, he said, proved that goodness still exists.

“For us to get this kind of collection, it really shows how much people out there really care,” Joseph said. “The care for our scouting family and community, the generosity and the thoughtfulness they’ve shown gave me a lot of hope. Drives like this keep the scouts focused on what’s really important in the world today.”

Troop 240 Committee Chairman Thomas O’Neill said the scouts have always contributed to food pantries in the community, including those at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, St. Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church, in Franklin Square, and Our Lady of Lourdes Church, in Malverne. “Being able to help meet the needs of our immediate local community is an important task for us,” O’Neill said. “This drive was a great way for the scouts to help others without being face to face.”

The troop, he explained, transitioned to virtual meetings on Zoom when the lockdown took effect in March. The Boy Scouts earned virtual merit badges through several home-oriented activities.

“These ceremonies are an important part of scouting, because they recognize the hard work and dedication of the scouts and leaders and boost morale,” O’Neill said. “From a scouting standpoint, we really hope to get back together soon, because we’re one big family.”

Canzoneri said he hoped to hold a barbecue for the troop at the end of the summer. For those interested in learning more about Troop 240, email bsatroop240wh@gmail.com.