Boy Scouts begin distribution of meals to 160 Southold seniors

These Boy Scouts deliver.

Thanks to a helping hand from local Boy Scouts, some Town of Southold senior citizens received meals, a hand-decorated rock and a friendly wave Wednesday.

Boy Scouts from Troop 6 collected meals at the town’s senior citizen center in Mattituck Wednesday morning and began delivering them. Altogether, the Boy Scouts were to deliver seven meals apiece to 160 seniors throughout the town, said Karen McLaughlin, the town’s director of human services. The shelf-stable meals included items such as cans of soup, cans of tuna, cans of chicken, cereal and breakfast bars. The food was supplied by the Suffolk County Office for the Aging and New York State Office for the Aging.

Along with the food packages, the Boy Scouts included colorfully decorated rocks and offers to be pen pals.

“It was just great because it was such a help to me because there’s a lot of logistical things, as you can imagine, that we had to look over, put together,” Ms. McLaughlin said. “… Knowing that I could rely on them and feel really confident that they could get this done for me and to see how really motivated and interested they were in making this happen … I was very overwhelmed.”

Senior citizens were asked in advance for permission to deliver the meals to them and told they could expect them between Wednesday and Friday. Eight uniformed Boy Scouts, wearing masks and gloves, loaded their parents’ cars with the packages at the senior center and 10 scouts (ages about 11 to 16 and all from Southold) are involved in the delivery, said Chrissy Berry, assistant scoutmaster for Troop 6.

“They got their instructions,” Ms. McLaughlin said. “I gave them a really brief summary of what we do and why people needed our help and I appreciated them helping.”

Ms. McLaughlin said the items were loaded in 45 minutes before heading off for contactless delivery. “The seniors all knew they were coming and they were really excited and they were so appreciative,” she said. “Everything went incredibly smoothly. The young men seemed very, very motivated to do this. They seemed incredibly invested in what they were doing.”

Southold Town Human Services delivered 28,155 meals to seniors ages 60 and older last year, according to the department’s 2019 annual report. Since March 12, when Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell declared the town in a state of emergency because of COVID-19, the senior center has delivered 16,700 meals, according to Ms. McLaughlin.

Since that time, Human Services has had to more than double its output in meals for seniors with a smaller staff. Human Services has four full-time mini-bus drivers and three part-timers, and they’ve been working on an every-other-day rotation in order to minimize exposure, said Ms. McLaughlin. The Boy Scouts were a logistical help, she said, taking a burden off the drivers.

“I just got these meals delivered and we got them out so promptly, and it was just because of the Boy Scouts, otherwise it would have been very difficult for our drivers to manage,” said Ms. McLaughlin.

Ms. Berry said the Boy Scouts like to help. “They’re boys,” she said, “sometimes they need a little bit of a push. When they do something like this, you see the smile on their face.”