SCOUTS TOTE TONS OF FOOD TO VENTURA COUNTY NEEDY.
Eleven-year-old Mike McCravy didn't mind that he had to wake up early Saturday morning, walk door to door for three hours and ask complete strangers for canned food.
``It was kind of fun,'' said the Simi Valley Boy Scout, who participated in his first food drive for Ventura County's needy families. ``I liked knowing I helped the needy.''
With help from his friends in Troop 689, the youngster collected food from more than 500 homes. As he counted the cans piled in several cardboard boxes, Mike said the community project made him more appreciative of what he has.
``Most of us take our lives for granted. We have a roof over our head. We have food,'' explained the Atherwood Elementary student. ``But there are people who don't. It makes me feel good knowing I can help people who need help.''
In celebration of the Boy Scouts of America's 76th anniversary in Ventura County, Mike was among hundreds of Scouts who hit the streets to collect 50,000 cans of food - 25 tons.
More than 7,900 boys 6 to 18 - Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Explorers - conducted the annual Scouting for Food Drive, which this year coincides with the Boy Scouts' 87th national anniversary.
By participating in the annual drive, youths learn the importance of community service, said Sheri Jones, Scouting for Food chairperson.
``They gain the satisfaction of helping others,'' Jones said. ``The kids feel proud knowing they're capable of making a difference.''
David McGraw said he felt the same personal satisfaction as a Scout in boyhood that his son, Devin, who is in Troop 689, gains from community service as a Scout.
``It's important to pass it on to the next generation and give him the values I grew up with,'' McGraw said. ``Helping others is what life is about.''
Among recipients of food gathered Saturday are Project Understanding in Ventura, the Oxnard Rescue Mission, HELP in Ojai and Community Assistance of Santa Paula. Other beneficiaries include St. Francis of Assisi Church in Fillmore, St. Mary Magdalen Christian Service in Camarillo and the Manna Food Bank in Thousand Oaks.
During its eight-year history, the Scouting for Food service project has distributed more than 150 tons of food to organizations that serve needy families. In 1996, more than 7,961 Ventura County youths participated in the project's development, citizenship training, leadership and fitness building programs countywide.
Last year, Scouts collected about 33,000 cans - less than expected because rain kept fewer Scouts from going door to door. More than 49,000 cans were collected in 1995.
In addition to helping needy families, the Scouts learn a lifelong lesson in giving, said Scout executive Dave Graska.
``Scouting is about teaching values to young people that will last them a lifetime,'' said Graska. By contributing their time Saturday, the Scouts ``learned the importance of community involvement and doing service for others. By giving their time, effort and energy, they discover how good it feels to help others.''
Eleven-year-old Jason Burhan found the work more fun than he expected.
``It was much better than sitting around the house playing video games all day.''
Photo: Red Voss helps his son William, center, and Steven Guetzoian, both 6-year-old Cub Scouts, collect food for the needy.
John McCoy/Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Feb 9, 1997|
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