Cub Scouts from Pack 580 sorted through bags of food, supplies and toys in a small warehouse in Valencia on Sunday, to prepare the goods to be distributed to families in need and refugees from Afghanistan settling in Santa Clarita.
Chelsea Reheis, scoutmaster of the pack, said Scouts had been collecting from houses, within their own organization, and out in front of grocery stores for the past week. Reheis said around 360 pounds were collected last Wednesday and, on Sunday, they had approximately 100 bags of food and supplies ready to be distributed.
“The ones right here are the ones we collected from the door side. I know we probably have at least five or six shopping carts full of food that families are bringing today,” said Reheis. “Everyone’s kind of bringing it all, dropping it off in one central location. So we can check expiration dates, kind of sort the food, and then get it in piles. We have a list of families that are in immediate need and so we can take their dietary considerations into need.”
The Scouts also sorted out an array of supplies ranging from toiletries to everyday household items. These are most likely going to the approximately 134 Afghan refugees who came to the Santa Clarita Valley in January. Reheis said a big part of this drive was to help them.
“We’re also helping the Afghan refugees, too, in addition to the food drive. We were running an Amazon wish list to the refugees,” said Reheis. “And by that we were able to get like a lot of diapers, newborn clothing, household goods, like mixing bowls, cutting boards, things like that, a lot of kids’ supplies, so like coloring books, things like that, just to kind of help them, you know, get going.”
Another organizer of the drive, Mary Bates, said although the surrounding communities may have initially resisted the idea of having refugees settle in the area, she’s found that people have been very generous once they arrived.
“I think in the very beginning, it was a challenge for the community to accept these refugees, but I have seen an outpouring of love and support in the recent months as we’ve gotten used to having them here,” said Bates. “As we’re becoming more educated and understanding that whether they’re Afghan refugees or refugees from another country… that over, certainly the months and the weeks that we’ve had the Afghan refugees here, we’ve really seen an outpouring of love and community support. So I think that that mindset is changing here in our community, and I think it’s also the outreach programs that are educating our community as well. We never know when our situation might change.”
The food supplies won’t just go to refugees, however. They’ll also be going to the Val Verde food pantries and some will go directly to families. According to Bates, one of the aims of the drive was to make sure the donations went to residents in the area and that the sense of community was integral to this project.
“You know, it’s good to be a part of the community and help out and there’s nothing wrong with giving to others and being part of the community,” said Bates. “Not only just with food drives, but with yard work or any other community project.”
The Cub Scouts as well seemed to know the importance of this concept.
“I feel like it is a nice thing to do and I think it is helping the community,” said 10-year-old Cub Scout Danny Matthews. “It was a little bit hard, but it was kind of fun. I think it is pretty good to help out families and I think everyone should help out the refugees.”