How Scouts stepped up to serve after the Southern California earthquakes

From left: Maria, Leah, Anna and Rachel move donated food to the trailer.

When Scouts hear about someone in need, they don’t just shake their heads in sorrow.

They spring into service.

That’s exactly what happened after a series of earthquakes shook Southern California last month. A group of Cub Scouts, Scouts and Venturers from the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles rallied their community to help the hardest-hit victims.

Over three days, the Scouts collected more than 20,000 pounds of bottled water and 8,000 pounds of nonperishable food and hygiene products. They worked with disaster relief officials to determine the best place to send the items — somewhere the donations would have the greatest impact.

They settled on Trona, Calif., a town of 2,000 devastated by the earthquakes. A pair of earthquakes — magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 — “cracked the very foundations of the town,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

The Scouts loaded the items into a trio of vehicles: a 26-foot box truck, a full pickup towing a 12-foot trailer and a packed van.

“Being helpful is what we do as Scouts, without the expectation of a reward,” says Rachel Garfield, 15, a Tenderfoot Scout from Troop 145 of Acton, Calif. “But, you know, we did get rewards. We were given smiles, handshakes and hugs.”

A community effort

I like to think that humans are naturally good, and Scouts can help bring out that goodness in everyone.

The Scouts from the BSA’s Western Los Angeles County Council proved that theory by encouraging strangers to be friendly, courteous and kind to others. The young people’s generosity proved infectious, spreading to people and businesses across the Antelope Valley.

Staples donated a banner and printed hundreds of flyers. Home Depot chipped in boxes, tape and stretch wrap. The local Walmart let the uniformed Scouts and Venturers set up a booth outside to distribute flyers and collect items.

And all along the way, community members donated items to people in need.

“It was a good learning experience for everyone involved,” says Troop 145 Assistant Scoutmaster Olga Garfield. “During the three days, we met many people of different ages, races and socioeconomic status. They all had big, kind hearts and felt the need to help.”

Delivering the donations

When completing a Scouting service project, you don’t always meet the beneficiary. You often have to be content knowing that you did something good and leave it at that.

This time was an exception. The Scouts and Venturers traveled to Trona to help unload and deliver the supplies.

“I saw the faces of Trona’s residents,” says Leah Garfield, 13, a Tenderfoot Scout from Troop 145. “Their smiles made me happy and proud of what we did.”

I think I speak for the entire Scouting family when we say we’re happy and proud of what you did, too.

About Bryan Wendell 2871 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.