The Boy Scouts of America kicked off its 28th annual “Scouting for Food” drive on Feb. 11, a process that involves collecting food donations for neighbors in need. Participating in the drive was the local BSA council, The Circle 10 Council, which extends from Dallas to Lake Towakani and north to Bryan County in Oklahoma, encompassing Van Alstyne and its neighboring towns.

“Scouting for Food is the Boy Scouts of America’s largest service project involving an estimated 10,000 Scouts and volunteers,” said Thomas Brown, who works with the Van Alstyne scouts.

Van Alstyne is home to Cub Scout Pack 6 and Boy Scout Troop 44. Together over 20 scouts and 18 adults walked the city streets to seek donations for the event, gathering approximately 720 cans.

After collecting the donations, the scouts checked every item to ensure they were properly sealed and not expired. The items were then taken to Gayle’s Food Pantry, located at the First United Methodist Church in Van Alstyne, to be dispersed to individuals and families in need of extra support.

Hank Gorman, a longtime BSA volunteer, has spent nearly two decades coordinating the drive for the Texoma Valley District, which includes Grayson and Bryan counties.

“Scouting for food … represents in a tangible way the best of scouting, where boys and young men learn the joy of helping others,” said Gorman.

As of Feb. 17, Gorman reported that 15,632 food items have been collected in the two counties he coordinates. Additionally, $953.69 in cash was donated to St. Catherine’s food bank in Durant. The total number of items collected for the entire Circle 10 Council is estimated to be 118,823.

Albertsons and Tom Thumb agreed to sponsor 2017 drive, while the Sherman and Denison Kroger and the Walmart in Durant also assisted in collections. All of the donated food items remain in the local communities, with the collected items from Grayson and Bryan counties being dispersed to Pottsboro, Colbert, Durant, Gunter, Sherman, Denison and Whitesboro.

“Scouts along with other volunteers donate their time so that Texomans can help neighbors down on their luck,” Gorman said.

Brown said that since 2000, the Circle Ten Council of scouts — along with families and volunteer leaders — have collected over 5 million food items for the community. A total of 18,000 canned food items were collected in 2016 from the Texoma Valley District alone.