Big Thanksgiving food drive this weekend marks 10-year anniversary

Tyler Pelham was about 7 years old when he came up with the idea for the Thanks-4-Giving Thanksgiving food drive and his father, Kevin, along with Cub Scout Pack 7, helped get it off the ground.

This year marks the 10th year for the holiday food collection.

Tyler was a young Scout when he came up with the idea.

“I was watching TV after Hurricane Katrina, and I saw the people in need and wanted to help. That's what Scouts do — it's part of our oath,” Tyler said. “I didn’t think it would go on this long.”

That first year, the effort helped 50 families, so the collection has grown substantially, to more than 300 families getting help each year.  It is the largest Scouting food drive in the state of Connecticut, organizers said.

Milford Scouts will collect and sort food over a 48-hour period this weekend so less fortunate families can celebrate Thanksgiving. Troop 1 of Milford will host the event with help from Boys Scout troops 196, 303 and 926, Cub packs 7, 13, 17, 709, 712, 196 , 925 and 926, Venture crew 303, with support also coming from several Girl Scout units.

“Over the past nine years we have collected approximately 2,700 turkeys, fed over 2,000 families and helped numerous local organizations, Milford Food Bank, Beth El Shelter, Boys and Girls Village, Christian Cornerstone as well as religious charities,” said Kevin Pelham. “In the past we helped organizations outside our area, Bridgeport Rescue Mission and New Haven soup kitchens. This year, in recognition of how this started, we will be helping families of Hurricane Sandy as we did two years ago through our Hurricane Sandy Relief program — with the help of the Catholic Charities organization.”

Kevin and Tyler Pelham say people behind the scenes make the collection possible: Milford Human Services; Milford Public Works; Dave Shaw and Andy Consiglio, who provide tent coverage; Mark Bernard and Milford Fabricating, who provide a van for picking up food; Tri City Appliance for making deliveries and, of course, the volunteers and Scouts who provide the heavy lifting.

“But most of all it’s the residents of Milford who find a way to help those less fortunate,” Kevin Pelham said.

“We have seen all types of weather over the years,” he added, “rain, hurricane winds, snow, and some sunshine — we don’t give up until the last box is delivered — then we collect and provide to the organizations.”

The Scouts are collecting frozen turkeys, non-perishable food items and monetary donations, with all proceeds going to the cause. The collection will take place around the clock beginning at noon on Friday, Nov. 14, and running to noon Sunday, Nov. 16, at the Wasson Field parking lot, which is on West Main Street, behind Milford’s Parsons Complex.

The Scouts hope to provide an estimated 300 Milford families with Thanksgiving meals as well as the Beth El Shelter and Milford Food Bank and various other food distribution charities.

Individuals may drop off food or money now at any branch of the Milford Bank or visit one of the drop-off points this weekend  at Wasson Field or this Saturday at a Milford Stop & Shop, ShopRite or Adams supermarket.