By Jerry Beck, Special to the USAG Benelux GazetteDecember 15, 2017
BRUSSELS -- On a recent snowy morning in Belgium, just outside of Brussels, local cub scouts from Pack 457 and the Girl Scout Cadette Troop 76 arrived at the Brussels American School to pack and wrap gifts in support of The Samaritans' "Shoe-Box Campaign" for Belgium's homeless population and less fortunate. Collaborating with the NATO Petty Officer's Association, volunteers and their families produced over 100 gift-wrapped shoe boxes filled with food for this cause and donated more than 400 individual food items to fill the organization's outreach food pantry.
"This is the true spirit of the Christmas season," said Ben Banchek, Pack 457 cubmaster. "I am hopeful these Scouts will remember this event and take on the practice of helping others."
Scouts and their families, members of the local community, and several local stores generously donated well over $1,000 worth of food items and materials for this event. More than $350 worth of excess food items collected during the November community clothing and food donation drive were returned to the NATO Top Three, who is sponsoring their own food drive supporting Nativitas, another local nonprofit charitable organization that works with the destitute. Josiane Vanleeuwen, the Samaritans' outreach director, said that she could not be more pleased by the scouts' support for their community.
"This was one small way to give back to the nation that is so hospitable to us," said Trish Applegate, Troop 76 scout leader. The gift boxes were delivered Dec. 12 to Resto du Coeur in Wavre where they will present the gift boxes to more than 220 homeless families at a Christmas luncheon the following week.
The American community came together making an impact in the lives of hundreds of Belgian nationals during a time of year that is supposed to be filled with holiday cheer. Petty Officer 1st Class Roderic Whilby-Suggs stated that he appreciated the teamwork in working with the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts on such a terrific event.
If you or your organization is interested in joining The Samaritans' "Shoe-Box Campaign," visit ww.shoe-box.be or call +32(0)474-540687.