It was a Thanksgiving dinner delivery that was truly a family affair.
For the past 15 years, the Calusa Cub Scout Pack 324 of Boca Raton has delivered meals to homebound residents in Delray Beach.
On Thursday, with the Cason Methodist Church as the staging ground, nearly a dozen scouts — both boys and girls — fanned out around town to deliver dinners to 66 families who are in need. Some were accompanied not only by moms and dads, but by grandparents who helped haul boxes of turkey dinners and pies.
“It encourages them to give back,” said David Silverstein, a 28-year U.S. Coast Guardsman from North Carolina who is visiting his grandson, Adrian. “All of these programs are phenomenal.”
Silverstein said he was a Cub Scout in Pennsylvania and in Maine. His father, who served in World War II, was also a scout. “The generations continue,” Silverstein said.
Camila Rivera was accompanied by her mother, Heidi, and grandfather, William.
“This is our fifth year,” Heidi Rivera said. “We’re really grateful for [the program] and the kids learn so much from it. This means a lot for them.”
The dinners are courtesy of CROS Ministries, a nonprofit that feeds the hungry in Palm Beach and Martin counties from its Caring Kitchen at the Methodist church. Since 1978, the ecumenical organization has provided food and meals in concert with other community groups to aid the most vulnerable in South Florida, said Shona Castillo, the kitchen’s program director.
In 2007 co-den leaders Heather Sadler and Debbie Smythe approached the group about deploying their young scouts to help deliver Thanksgiving dinners.
“They connected with us and asked, ‘how can we help?’” Castillo recalled.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Smythe said. “One of the mottos is to ‘do a good turn daily.’ So this is when we give back to the community, teaching them some values, seeing those who are not as fortunate as we are. This is probably one of the favorite things I do.”
Since its first year, the delivery program has evolved from a rite of passage in community service for the Cub Scouts aged 5 to 10, to a tradition followed by many former members who return each year as adults to help the cause.
Castillo said it’s rare for children to do volunteer work for Caring Kitchen as it operates mainly during weekdays, when the scouts are in school.
Although the scouts have consistently made the Thanksgiving deliveries an annual feature of their activities, food acquisition is becoming more difficult, Castillo said.
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“This is the first year I have had difficulty [obtaining] turkeys,” she said. “Last year, all of a sudden donors came through. This year I heard nothing. One gentleman said I’ll give you 50. Then the day he was going to deliver he said, I can only give you five.
“I scrambled and I was begging people for turkeys,” she said. “My last resort is to use our budget. Just as I was about to go purchase, a gentleman like an angel called and said can I give you turkeys?”
The donor, who remains anonymous, wrote a $1,000 check.
Pies were donated by the California-based Daniel Ross MMA Foundation, which provides kids with financial aid for wrestling and mixed martial arts programs.
“Angels appear everywhere,” she said. “You just never know. Just when we thought we wouldn’t have enough food, we had more than enough.’
By the end of the morning, all 66 families had received their dinners.
But for Castillo, the day did not conclude in Delray. Her next stop: A West Palm Beach hotel that provides temporary housing for homeless military veterans. The group received 37 dinners.