On a Saturday morning, when many people enjoyed sleeping in or taking time for other relaxation, members of the Boy Scouts of America were up early "Scouting for Food."
And a major undertaking it was, with hundreds of thousands of boys and their leaders out collecting food on Nov. 19 for needy individuals and families in a national "good turn."The project, "Scouting for Food," will meet many of the basic food needs of countless people. But equally important, the program teaches youths the principles of service by aiding those less fortunate than themselves.
Food gathered in the program is usually delivered to public food banks and pantries and is distributed without cost to people, regardless of their religious affiliation.
In Utah, the Utah National Guard provided personnel and equipment and Utah Power & Light Co. provided most of the bags and boxes for the project.
Paul A. Aldous, a Scoutmaster for less than two weeks in Troop 524, Cannon 5th Ward, Salt Lake Cannon Stake, said he believes the 12 boys in his troop "learned that everyone can lend a hand to help those in need. They have gained confidence in going door to door and talking with people," he said.
"We appreciate the cooperation of people. Without them this wouldn't work."
Some people were reluctant to contribute. But others, even though they may be struggling with financial or other problems themselves, willingly contributed food.
Aldous, a University of Utah student who works at a plastics fabricating firm, told of an experience that he and the 12 boys in his troop had in calling at the home of one elderly woman on Salt Lake City's west side. Initially, the woman was reluctant to respond to the request for food.
"She said she would be a recipient of such food and didn't feel she could donate herself. So I wished her a good day and we walked toward the next home. When we reached the sidewalk she called us back, saying she could donate something and brought out a can of food. I was touched by this woman and her genuine expression of concern," Aldous said.
Ronald F. Simmons, Scoutmaster of Troop 415, sponsored by the Twenty Seventh East Ward, Salt Lake Emigration Stake, said the food-gathering effort is a great project because it benefits everyone.
"People who give feel the warmth and comfort of sharing. Boys gain by learning to serve and help, and recipients of the food gain by receiving food when they need it. It was a good experience to see so many people become involved in helping," Simmons said.
Alan Westenskow, 14, an Eagle Scout in Troop 84 and a teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood, said the project helped him realize that a lot of people need help.
"It feels good to know you are helping people," said Alan, a son of Paul and Carolyn Westenskow of the Parleys 6th Ward, Salt Lake Parleys Stake.
Last April, Alan conducted a food-gathering effort on his own as a part of his Eagle Scout service project. Other boys in the troop assisted.
"They thought my service project was so good that the whole world adopted it," Alan said, his face beaming with excitement as he talked with his mother.
Leo A. Jardine, commissioner of the Great Salt Lake Council and a member of Federal Heights Ward, Salt Lake Emigration Stake, said "Scouting for Food" provided a tremendous opportunity for boys to participate in a meaningful, tangible way.