MECOSTA, OSCEOLA COUNTIES — Members of the Reed City Cub Scout Pack No. 174 will learn the importance of giving back to those in need as they host the annual Scouting for Food drive.

Now in its 38th year, the food drive is a community-wide event which aims to collect nonperishable items for local food pantries.

Russ Nehmer, cubmaster for pack No. 174, said this year's collections will go to Project Starburst, a nonprofit food bank serving people in Mecosta and Osceola counties.

Nehmer said although donations given during the Scouting for Food drive have gone to a variety of different food pantries in the past, Project Starburst was chosen this year since it supports both counties.

"There's a lot of homelessness and poverty in Osceola County and surrounding counties," he said. "Project Starburst needs that little bit of a boost, especially with the holidays coming up."

Project Starburst director Diane Long said the organization feeds about 300 families each month, and there tends to be an increase in need around the holidays.

"This food drive will really help because we get more families than usual in November and December from both Osceola and Mecosta counties," she said. "We are very thankful the Scouts are including us."

People are encouraged to donate canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, rice, beans, tuna, soup, cereal, mayonnaise, peanut butter and jelly, pancake mix, cooking oil, toilet paper, baby food and baby wipes, among other items.

Nehmer said collection boxes are placed at a variety of local businesses, including city hall, Patterson's Flowers, Reed City Brewery, Huntington Bank, Lake-Osceola State Bank, Love Inc., Hometown Pharmacy, Sonny's Sports Bar and Grill, Blown-Away Hair Salon, Buckboard Bar and Grille, Holdfast Tattoo, Reed City Tire, Osceola County Road Commission, McDonald's, Shaker's Party Store, Family Dollar, Pizza Hut, Tubelite Inc., Yoplait, Happy Tails, G.T. Norman Elementary School, Burger King, Rite Aid, Crossroads Realty, J.A. Grocery, Family Optometric Center and Magnolia Boutique and Coffee Shop.

"A lot of businesses in town were excited about participating," he said.

In addition to helping Project Starburst and local people in need, Nehmer said participation in food drives and other charitable activities is an important part of being a Cub Scout.

"Scouting has always been about community service and giving back. This builds character for the young men involved," he said.