TOWNSEND -- Townsend Ecumenical Outreach is asking residents to contribute to its largest food drive of the year.
With help from local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, the TEO delivered blue plastic bags to the doorstep of every household in Townsend on Nov. 2, allowing residents an easy way to contribute.
On Nov. 9, the bags will be collected and taken to TEO for sorting and distribution.
TEO's Don Ouellette said the drive usually brings in close to 10,000 pounds of food, enough to feed the organization's clients for about three months.
"It gives us a lot of our canned goods for the year, so we really do depend on this. We look forward to it every November and we're extremely thankful for the Scouts and, of course, for the people who donate," Ouellette said.
Ouellette said there are certain staple items the TEO always needs, such as canned meats, pasta, cereal, soup and other prepared foods.
He said they also tend to run low on baking ingredients, including sugar, flour and cake mixes.
TEO distributes food once a month to anywhere from 85 to 100 families, usually giving away about 3,000-4,000 pounds of food at a time.
Families must apply and meet certain standards to access the pantry.
They can then come to the organization's office at 82 Bayberry Hill Road on the designated Saturday each month to shop for nonperishable food as well as items such as produce, bread, milk and eggs, which the TEO purchases at a discounted price.
The organization also delivers food to about 20 families a month who aren't able to get to the office due to medical issues or a lack of transportation.
On Nov. 16 beginning at 8 a.m., TEO will be making its monthly distribution, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Kathy Dantas-Dwyer, who volunteers with Boy Scout Troop 81, said the work that the Scouts and the TEO are doing has a huge impact in town.
"We do have so many families in need just in our community. We talk about the need outside our community, but it's our neighbors who don't have enough food and I don't think we realize that. It could be any one of us in need, and this goes right to our community," Dantas-Dwyer said.
The Scouts are each given a route of houses to deliver the blue bags to, with the help of a parent or guardian. They are then responsible for collecting the food from the same route on Nov. 9. Residents are asked to return the filled bag to the spot where it was left by the Scout by the morning of Nov. 9.
By getting children in town involved, Dantas-Dwyer said they learn the importance of community service, and the impact that even small gestures can have.
"It gives the kids a bigger picture. We've become a very individualized society, and kids need to realize that even collecting a small grocery bag is going to make a huge difference," she said.