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‘Scouting for Food’ nets 14,000 items for food bank

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By Kristin Sherrard

CARROLLTON, Ky. – Alex Jeffrey, a 12-year-old in the First Baptist Church youth group, was up early Saturday to help those in need in the community.
Jeffrey volunteered for his third Scouting for Food drive saying he likes to help “because it helps people out in the community and then you don’t have to watch as many people suffer.”
He is one in a group of students that youth minister and Wolf Scouts scoutmaster Jay Montgomery led in the weekend community service project. Montgomery said they wanted to get involved with the Scouting for Food drive because it was a local effort.
“The scouts has done a great job of promoting it and putting it in the paper,” Montgomery said. “… The community gets behind it and still, as tough as the economy has been, people share and see the need so they try to help out. There will be a couple houses that we pick up today that will just have bags, not just one or two cans, but they’ll have bags of stuff.”
Montgomery said that was another nice thing about the food drive is the number of people not involved with scouts who will volunteer their time to help.
Despite the downtrodden economy, local residents once again demonstrated their generosity as the Carroll County Scouting for Food drive put up record numbers. A total of 14,088 non-perishable food items were collected by a joint effort between the Carroll County Schools and the community door-to-door collection on Saturday. Last year’s count was 14,785, but it also included donations from Dow Corning.
The students and staff at Carroll County Schools collected 9,138 items, a 31 percent increase over the 2009 collection of 6,973 and a 21 percent increase over the previous record of 7,568, set in 2007, according to Jeff Fremin, director of public relations for Carroll County Schools. The door-to-door collection brought in 4,950 items, a 7 percent increase over 2009.
Troop 131 scoutmaster Scott Nab said more than 60 volunteers hit the pavement the previous Saturday Nov. 13, distributing door hangers and fliers to get the word out about the drive. Almost 100 volunteers assisted Nov. 20 with the food collection and stocking at the community food pantry, located in the basement of St. John’s Catholic Church.
Montgomery said at the last scout meeting, food drive organizers said Carroll County historically brings in more total can goods through the schools and door-to-door collecting than all of Oldham County, a statistic that Nab said Carroll County is very proud to report.
Through the church, Montgomery, who has been volunteering for the past four or five years, said he sees firsthand the positive impact the food pantry has on the community.
“People come in just really hurting, hungry, just needing help,” he said, “… knowing that when you pack that box, that’s going to be somebody’s dinner, somebody’s next meal that is really dependent on that, I’m just reminded (of) all the … things to be grateful for. (It is) also a way to make a difference in somebody else’s life that isn’t as fortunate as we are.”
Fremin said he did not know what exactly led to the collection increase this year. However, he said the students enjoy having the competition between the classes and the schools, and the drive is becoming more and more of a tradition each year. Fremin also said having someone in the school building who is really pushing for support of the drive helps it become more successful. He also thinks people are recognizing the great need for food in the community and stepping up to meet the challenge.
Cartmell Elementary led the way for the schools, collecting 2,886 items. Based on an enrollment of 432 students, the average student collected 6.68 items for the drive, Fremin said in an e-mail. Kathryn Winn Primary collected the second-most items with 2,558, followed by Carroll County High School, 1,720 plus $251.27 in cash; Carroll County Board of Education with 1,697; and Carroll County Middle School, 277.
Fremin credited staff support secretary Melissa Tharp’s organization of the collection at the board office  for its significant donation. With 12 employees, the central office averaged 141.42 items per employee.
Fremin said the classified employees (710) challenged the certified employees (987), boosting the office count by 52 percent over 2009.