Brandon and Colin Sullivan ran around the corner of Sheehy Place in Malverne on Saturday pulling a Red Flyer wagon full of canned foods that they had collected all morning.
“I think we need another basket for all the extra points and cans we have!” said Brandon, 10, of Malverne, who was participating in the Our Lady of Lourdes Church’s youth ministry's fourth annual Souper Scavenger Hunt. The hunt pitted 14 teams of children and adults against each other in a food-collecting competition to benefit the St. Vincent DePaul Society’s food pantry. The pantry is across the street from the church.
Each pound of food was one point, and food that are in high demand at the pantry, such as tuna, peanut butter and fruit, were counted as double points.
“It’s important for the kids to learn to give back,” said Anna Sullivan, Brandon and Colin’s mother. “Everybody in the neighborhood was so generous; it was nice to see that.”
In the week before the event, members of the youth ministry posted fliers around Malverne asking people to leave canned food outside their doors during the morning of the scavenger hunt. Each team was given a certain area of the neighborhood in which to go door to door collecting the food.
“We’re helping feed people in our own neighborhood so we can really make a difference,” said Dana Flynn, 14, of Malverne.
The winning team, the Souper Hunters, collected 482 pounds of food. In total, the teams collected 3,402 pounds of food for the pantry.
“At the end of the month when people’s food stamps are running out, they really need this food,” said Mike Hannan, president of the St. Vincent DePaul Society of Malverne. “We encourage our youth from an early age to demonstrate loving one another in this way.”
The St. Vincent DePaul Society of Malverne is the local branch of a global organization comprised of members of the Catholic Church who volunteer throughout the year helping underprivileged people. The Malverne branch gives out food from the pantry to about 100 families from the community each month.
“The food supply gets low this time of the year so this event gives the kids a chance to help out,” said Linda Baldacchino, youth minister at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
Teams were sorting their cans on Sheehy Place and running back and forth to vans to grab more food for the weigh-in. Many brought wagons and large bags to do the scavenger hunt entirely on foot. Local businesses donated prizes for every participant.
“It’s nice because it’s not just people from the church who are getting involved in this,” said Hannan. “Most of the people in the village who donated aren’t part of the church so this event is really bringing the whole neighborhood together.”