Scouts, students fight hunger in the Valley

YOUNGSTOWN – A few more people in the Valley will have food to eat, thanks to a local Girl Scout troop and area college students.

On Valentine’s Day, Austintown Girl Scout Troop 80037 and respiratory care students showed they had heart and gathered at Youngstown State University to pack two large boxes full of food for the Harvest for Hunger campaign. The food was collected over several weeks and was comprised of personal donations of students and Scouts.

The Scouts and students took turns placing food items into the boxes, which will be sent to the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley. Each day, the food bank distributes 40,000 pounds of food to hungry families in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.

Tori Heverly, 20, of Lordstown, a junior in the respiratory care program, said although she wasn’t in the Girl Scouts, she enjoyed working with the troop.

“I thought this was a very good idea for a collaboration. I was excited to work with the kids and I’m sure they’re happy they get to meet college kids,” she said.

Cierra Shyley, 5, of Austintown, nodded when asked if she enjoyed collecting the food.

“She loves to give … to help the other families that need,” said her mom, Theresa Shyley.

Amanda Roby, assistant professor of respiratory care and polysomnography, said the collaboration is also a good way for the young Scouts to see the university and get a glimpse of what college life is all about.

“I think this is a great opportunity for the younger generation to see what college students are doing as far as service work and across the generational spectrum. We can all do service for the community,” she said.

Deanna Robertson, 24, of Poland, a junior at YSU, said she remembers serving the community when she was a Girl Scout.

“It’s nice to see that everything I did is still being passed on … I hope that Amanda will keep bringing them back because it’s always fun to see someone who looks up to you and is interested in community service as much as you are,” she said.

The students also have taken part in Operation Christmas Cards to send to troops overseas, Relay for Life, walk for Cystic Fibrosis and other charity events. Heverly said they even participated in a coat drive the day they took their final exams.

“We went to the coat drive and came back and took our tests,” she said with a smile.

Brittany Stocker, 23, a junior, said, “I think this is a good thing. I feel like we’re the only program that does stuff like this.”

As all of the students and Girl Scouts gathered around the boxes full of food, Girl Scout leader Patty Walker said, “If everybody in this room does a little bit, then we’re always going to help people.”

Second Harvest is always accepting donations. The most-needed items include: peanut butter, cereal, canned vegetables, tuna fish, dry pasta, canned soup and macaroni and cheese. For more information, call 330-792-5522.