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Scouting for Food This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Once a year, in November, the Boy Scouts hold the Scouting for Food drive. I've tended to use it as an excuse to run through town and hang out with my friends. We hang flyers on doors to advertise, then ride in the back of pickup trucks a week later, looking for houses that left bags of food for us to collect.

Each year my goal has been to get out, get the job done, and return to my own agenda. It's not always fun to be outside during the cold and snowy Novembers in Minnesota, but we always go to the bakery for a donut at the end. I have always struggled with the seemingly contradictory notions of fun and service. I also questioned my motives: Is this event about being done and having fun, or donating the food?

My dad, who is my Scoutmaster, is a big influence on my life. One of his goals has been to put more focus on what Scouts can do to benefit others. He always pushes us to do service projects at camps or help with VFW dinners. I consistently receive the message that service is important, whether it is fun or not, but I guess I never really saw the impact.

Raised in a two-income household, I have always had access to three meals a day, and many opportunities to be involved in extracurricular activities like Boy Scouts. It's hard for me to understand what not being privileged feels like.

Last November was cold, and we all wanted to get the Scouting for Food drive done quickly, but progress was slow. One friend and I were working together. We cut across a road toward the section of town that included the church that housed the food shelf. As I turned a corner, I saw a line of people by the church, and the realization hit me: These were the people who relied on donated food to feed their families. I had finally seen the direct impact of my volunteer work.

This experience signaled a turning point in my life. Not only did it affect how I looked at Scouting for Food, but it gave me a boost toward being a truly service-minded person. It took eight years, a more mature outlook, and seeing my efforts' impact on others, but I eventually got there. I am really glad for my involvement in Scouts and how it is helping me be a better person.

I have continued doing random acts of kindness, taking part in service projects, and making charitable contributions. I've learned that having a service-inclined mind is a positive way to approach life and benefit our community.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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