Staff Writer

TOWNSEND — For the second straight year, the people of Townsend have set a new record for donations to the Townsend Ecumenical Outreach (TEO).

TEO President Lee Hughes said the final combined total of their “Scouting for Food” drive resulted in a record amount of more than 6,500 pounds of canned food and paper products collected, easily beating the previous year’s mark of 6,200 pounds. All that food will be distributed among 84 families in town, including a full Thanksgiving meal “with all the fixings.”

The food was collected over the course of just a few hours nearly a month ago, on Oct. 27. Collection bags had been distributed by both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts the previous weekend. That same day, Hughes said, all the food was sorted out and the new record was discovered.

Soup, he said, is the most donated food item and the same held true this year. The items least donated were the various paper products and toiletries that Hughes said people often forget are just as necessary as food.

Amazingly, Hughes said, the canned vegetables, typically sorted into 20 different categories (creamed corn, green beans, etc.), “break out pretty evenly. Kind of funny.”

Once sorted, enough food was selected to fill the 84 baskets — half-bushel laundry baskets donated by the Sterilite Corporation — over the course of the next few weeks.

After picking up the turkeys and turkey breasts from Hannaford — the final component for the Thanksgiving meals — the baskets were all delivered on Tuesday, Nov. 20. One basket went to each family, for a rough estimate of 225 people fed, by the TEO’s calculations.

In December, more baskets will be prepared in time for Christmas.

The Thanksgiving effort was a momentous occasion and a particularly unique success, according to Hughes.

“Donations have been down for food banks. The need is rising,” Hughes said. “Things are almost as bad as when Wang closed down we had almost 100 families.”

He expected another 10 families would be added to the list of those in need by Christmas.

“We expect to see some people knocking on our door for assistance,” he said.

However, that is all the more reason to feel some pride at the level of dedication the townspeople have shown, and Hughes thanked everyone for donations they have made or will make.

“We appreciate everything; whatever we get is more than what we had.” Hughes was also thankful the weather held up, for the most part, especially on the collection day.

“You never know what’s going to happen, but the rain held out until the last 45 minutes of the drive.”

He joked that the good weather might have led to greater donations, but praised Townsend citizens nonetheless.

“It gets better every year,” Hughes said.