The Scout Oath's vow to help other people at all times applies even during a pandemic, as some local kids are showing.

The age of COVID-19 makes life especially hard for food pantries, which are seeing more demand because of surging numbers of people left unemployed while at the same challenged to maintain funding and fundraising, not to mention connections to their volunteers.

Take Andover Troop 73’s fall food drive, for example. Like most other Scouts, the ones who meet at South Church gather donations as part of the annual Scouting for Food program organized by the Boy Scouts of America. And, like other Scouts, those in Andover have had to change their approach.

Rules meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 stopped the Troop 73 Scouts from seeking donations outside of Stop & Shop, as they normally would. These days, they’ve been trudging out into the neighborhoods, cheerfully enough, and going from door to socially distanced door to ask for support for Neighbors in Need, which feeds the needy in Lawrence.

Persistent and resourceful may not be among the dozen points of the Scout Law, but the South Church Scouts, who’ve been meeting via Zoom these days, are every bit as much those things as they are trustworthy, loyal, friendly and kind. Working alongside Cub Scouts and Troop 76, out of Ballardvale United Church, they managed to collect and donate 361 pounds of food.

“We are searching for ways to have fun and give back in these unprecedented times," said Troop 73 Scoutmaster Chris Dunn, who has been collecting donations for Neighbors in Need with a bucket on his porch since April.

Our community should be thankful for the determined work of the Scouts — and their Scoutmasters — to support an important local charity, as well as to those who opened their doors, and their own pantries, to help these Scouts fulfill an important food mission.

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