Collection drives: Generous and disappointing – help still needed

Above: Scouting for Food volunteers check expiration dates before food is added to the
Southborough Food Pantry. (Photo by Laura Coldwell-Stewart)

Southborough residents showed their generosity this fall in response to the two traditional collection drives: the Troop Drive and Scouting for Food. But one of the drives failed to meet its goal.

The good news is that it’s not too late to help.

Scouting for Food

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Above: Scouting for Food volunteers help sort contributions to the Food Pantry.
(Photo by Laura Coldwell-Stewart)

Scouts throughout town collected contributions on Saturday for the Southborough Food Pantry’s biggest annual drive. Organizers are grateful for the generosity of those who contributed. They ended with just over 7,600 lbs of food and supplies collected.

Unfortunately, the donations were less than previous years and a disappointment.

When my daughter and I went to collect from our route, one of the streets on our route was a treasure trove. The other was a bust.

According to the drive organizers, they were getting reports like this all over town. One theory presented: beautiful weather and the distraction of the Red Sox parade caused many residents to simply forget.

If you still want to contribute, you can click here for the Food Pantry’s drop off information. The site also lists information on much needed items.

They accept contributions year round, so it’s never too late to make a difference.

Semi-annual Troop Drive

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Above: Volunteers organize Troop Drive contributions. (Photo by Beth Melo)

The October drive to support US troops overseas had better news to report. After a disappointing spring, organizers were delighted by the success this fall.

Our Community shipped 475 boxes weighing just over 12,000 pounds. Monetary donations covered the over $9000.00 in postage. Over the years, Southborough has sent troops 199,000 pounds in contributions!

This fall’s contributions came not only from residents, but from the generous support of businesses like Stop & Shop. The supermarket trucked over both goods and workers to help with the drive.

Lisa Braccio, one of the drive organizers, asked me to share a thank you letter from one of the service members who received packages.

Master Sergeant Larry Metcalf’s letter is attached, but I’ll also share an excerpt below:

Ms. Lisa, Volunteers, and Metrowest Community~

First and foremost I would like to personally thank each and every person who has helped put this care package together, I do not think you all realize how much we appreciate these packages. Second, I would like to thank you on behalf of the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen we have here in our office for the unyielding support you show to us and our country.

This is my 9th deployment in 15 years, the care and support for the U.S. Service members from the American people has shown we are stronger than ever. When we receive these packages it like opening Christmas presents on Christmas morning, you never know what you’re going to get. (read more)

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Above: Before care package boxes were filled, scouts and other children decorated
many with thanks to troop members for their service. (Photo by Beth Melo)

23 Comments
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Barbara Millett
8 years ago

For several years I left my food donation for the scouts. It was retrieved once. This also happened in my new neighborhood in Westborough. Hard to understand. Easier to donate directly to the food pantry.

Tina HYland
8 years ago

No bags left on my street (Gilmore Road), so I assumed there would not be a pick-up either.

Frank Crowell
8 years ago
Reply to  Tina HYland

I am fairly sure that bags were left; they just blew off the mailbox. I have found a lot of those bags while walking.

Laura Coldwell-Stewart
8 years ago
Reply to  Frank Crowell

I’m sorry Tina. It was a very windy day when we had our bag drop off. We are looking into a flyer only solution for next year.

South Train
8 years ago

We filled our bag the night before and had every intention of getting it to the mailbox by the 9 am deadline….but sadly, we overslept.

In hindsight, we would have preferred bringing our donation to an alternate location during the week…the handwritten note from the Scout and the special bag is a great reminder and motivator. Good job Scouts!

The above article links to multiple church locations for drop-off…but when are the church doors open? (The transfer station, library, town hall also seem like good locations for a drop off ?)

Laura Coldwell-Stewart
8 years ago
Reply to  South Train

At this time the Food Pantry only has drop offs at town churches and public schools. It is never too late to drop off a donation for the pantry at your convenience.

South Train
8 years ago

Sorry if I wasn’t clear, Laura. Would the Scouts be able to p/u donations dropped off at convenient public locations the DAY of the Event?

We should donate to the pantry more than once or twice a year! We like the Scout involvement, however, and want to support young people doing good things. Congrats to Scout leaders and pantry workers for your time and effort. Your work is appreciated by many.

southville
8 years ago

That’s a great point. I’m sure some people miss the morning deadline. Even though 9am isn’t that early, it’s early for some people who might only get to sleep in on the weekend, or who are distracted in the morning getting the family up and ready for the day.

Might be nice to add a note to the bag that says “Missed the 9am drop off? Scouts are organizing the food all day until 2pm at location X, drop it off in person.”

Laura Coldwell-Stewart
8 years ago
Reply to  southville

Good point. I will look into getting that information back on the flyer next year. We are limited on space, so I have tried to cut it to essentials and still have the font big enough to read.

Greg
8 years ago

On my street, I noticed that on Sunday the 27th, sometime in the morning, bags were distributed to all of the mailboxes, but within just a couple hours someone had gone and taken all the bags back, and they never re-appeared. So, unless you were real quick to grab the bag (on a Sunday morning), there was no opportunity to donate anything. Not sure what the reason was behind that.

Greg
8 years ago
Reply to  Greg

(And it wasn’t that they blew away, I saw someone going down the street taking them in the afternoon)

Laura Coldwell-Stewart
8 years ago
Reply to  Greg

Greg,
It really upsets me to hear that. The Scouts work very hard to make this happen every year, as do the parents and the food pantry. Anyone removing bags from mailboxes that don’t belong to them is stealing from hungry people in Southborough and the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts are asked to clean up unclaimed bags on the day they pick up the food, so there is really no excuse for that behavior.

resident
8 years ago

I didn’t get a bag because I guess they had a hard time getting it on my mailbox so I just took any old bag and put it out there with stuff in it. It worked just fine!

Matthew
8 years ago

This is a case of folks trying ot do anything they can to get the donation into the hands that need them. I personally hate the bags as most of them end up blowing around the neighborhood and that it is a federal offense to hang anything on or put anything in a mailbox unless you are the owner or a postal worker.

The message gets out there and that’s important. Maybe one of the three sheds at the dump could be a food drop off location for the Food Panrtry. I honestly have no idea where the pantry is but I do know where the dump is and go there often.

Did anyone catch the story on NPr on just donating money?
http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/10/25/240590433/what-happens-when-you-just-give-money-to-poor-people

How about the Food Pantry gets a Paylpal account?

Laura Coldwell-Stewart
8 years ago
Reply to  Matthew

Matthew, you are correct about getting the donations to those that need them. The Scouting for Food drive fills the pantry for about 1/2 the year and is the biggest single influx of food for the year.

As for the mailboxes, it is actually illegal to open or tamper with anything inside a mailbox, not outside a mailbox (as long as it is not vandalized, which is a different crime). We do call the Southborough Post Office and Southborough Police every year to make sure everything is good to go for the dates in question before we proceed, and they are well aware of the laws on this too.

As for more pickup locations, they would be great. However, the pantry would also need more volunteers to shuttle the food over to Pilgrim Church (where the pantry is located), as well as permission from the DPW, and possibly other town offices. So someone would have to volunteer to get all that arranged. The same goes for setting them up with Paypal. If anyone would like to volunteer to do that, they would love some more help. :-)

As you mentioned donating money is fine too. It helps fill in the gaps between what’s donated and what’s needed, as well as to purchase perishable items like milk and cheese as needed.

Matthew
8 years ago

Laura,
Respectfully I refer you to the following.
http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/508.htm

3.1.3 Use for Mail
Except under 3.2.11, Newspaper Receptacle, the receptacles described in 3.1.1 may be used only for matter bearing postage. Other than as permitted by 3.2.10, Delivery of Unstamped Newspapers, or 3.2.11, no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items or matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Any mailable matter not bearing postage and found as described above is subject to the same postage as would be paid if it were carried by mail.

The postmaster will confirm that it is illegal but he allows it since there are few complaints and that requests to be removed from the distribution are mostly honored. I know this because after speaking with him a while back I opted out of the last one the boy scouts did and my request was honored by the scout master in charge of that distribution.

Sorry for not being in favor of the mailbox method.

Laura Coldwell-Stewart
8 years ago
Reply to  Matthew

Matthew,
I apologize. It appears the rules we have been given by the post office to only use the outside of the box or the post, are in fact a special consideration given us by the post office. We do contact the post office every year and inform the Scouts of what rules they must follow.

Phil LaBelle
8 years ago

South Train (and others),

St. Mark’s Church on 27 Main St. is a drop off location at our Parish House. Someone’s at our Parish House Office (the administration building nearest the road) weekdays from 9-2, and on Sunday mornings from 7:30-12. Bring them then, or, if that doesn’t work, you can always tuck them near the Parish House entrance under the eaves and we’ll get them to the right place.

Many thanks,
Phil LaBelle
Rector of St. Mark’s

South Train
8 years ago
Reply to  Phil LaBelle

Thank-You, Phil…this is helpful.

Laura Coldwell-Stewart
8 years ago

I’m Laura and I am co-chair for Scouting for Food this year. I would like to address some of the points I’ve read above to help people out.

First and foremost, this entire food drive is done by kids. They do make mistakes, and they do miss bags, but they are trying very hard to live up to the Cub Scout motto of “Do Your Best”.

That said, if your bag was not picked up, it can still be donated at any church or public school in town. If you leave it on the steps near a main door at any church it will be found. All the public schools have collection bins in their lobbies as well where your donation can be left.

For people who just wish to give money, that’s great too. Checks can be made to
The Southborough Food Pantry
P.O. Box 281
Soutborough, MA 01772

I have addressed some other points directly above as well. I want to extend our thanks from both the Food Pantry and the Scouts for the generosity that has always been shown during the Scouting for Food drive. Regardless of the inevitable glitches and difficulties we have from year to year, we are always trying to find ways to do better next year.

Thank You,
Laura Coldwell-Stewart

Mohn family
8 years ago

We are so sorry that we consistently fail to put our bag out ontime! This year we delivered to the church in the afternoon, though no one was there to collect. We left our bag of food inside with Michael Hurley’s name on it, in the hope that he will know we appreciate his service!

Laura Coldwell-Stewart
8 years ago
Reply to  Mohn family

I forwarded your message to Michael’s Mom. Thank you!

Tom Marcoulier
8 years ago

Laura,

Thank you for co-chairing (and thanks to the other co-chair). A good job done well.

P.S. St. Ann’s parish hall is another year-round drop off location.

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