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YOUNGSTOWN – Residents are asked to help share the holiday spirit with those less fortunate by contributing to the decades-old tradition of the Youngstown Christmas Baskets, to be delivered this year to nearly 50 needy individuals and families in Youngstown and Porter.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 829 and Cub Scout Pack 829 will canvass the village beginning at 2 p.m. next Sunday to collect canned goods and nonperishables, including pasta, peanut butter and oatmeal, for the food baskets. Donors are asked to leave canned goods (with ample expiration dates) in plastic bags on their front steps to be picked up by the Scouts. The Scouts will canvass the neighborhoods in the Village of Youngstown, Youngstown Estates and the Collingwood subdivision.

In addition, the Scouts will pick up any new, unwrapped hats, gloves, mittens or other clothing, toys or books to be added to the Christmas baskets for area children.

The Scouts will then deposit the collected goods at the village municipal building to be sorted and packaged by volunteers the following week. Volunteers will deliver the food items and gifts to homes Dec. 15.

William Baird, of Boy Scout Troop 829, said the Scouts generally collect “around 2,200 items” for the baskets each year.

“This has been going on as long as I remember, and the Scouts have been involved at least 20 years,” Baird said. “You see the need for this in the inner cities, and you don’t see it as much out here [in the suburbs], because it’s not as visible, but the need is here.”

Organizer Margaret-Ann “Peggy” Hanson said the idea started more than two decades ago with the Youngstown Civic Guild, which, she recalled, in her first year with the group put together four baskets to deliver to needy residents.

“It’s just grown over the years,” she said. “I’m always amazed at how well it all comes together. We deliver around 50 baskets a year now.”

Hanson collects the names of those in need. She calls people who received baskets last year to see if they still need help and collects names from other sources, such as local schools. It is all kept confidential.

Hanson said anyone in need of help this Christmas, or anyone with the name of someone in need, may call her before Dec. 11 at 745-7285.

Members from every corner of this small community contribute to the cause – from the area churches to civic and community groups, including the Youngstown Lions Club, Ransomville Lions Club, Youngstown Study Group, the Women’s Club and the Garden Club. In addition, the Youngstown Recreation Department, Department of Public Works and Youngstown Free Library help, as do students and staff (including retired teachers) from the Lewiston-Porter school district. The Sevenson Corp. and Chemical Waste Management also contribute.

More than 50 volunteers collect, sort, wrap and deliver the goods each year, Hanson said.

email: niagaranews@buffnews.com